UCU names universities with biggest bullying problems

6 November 2008 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU today names and shames the universities with the worst reported levels of bullying, ahead of Friday's national Ban Bullying at Work Day.

The union said the deep-seated problem of bullying at work had to be tackled by universities and attacked organisations in the sector for failing to get to grips with the issue.

The UCU survey of 9,700 members working in higher education revealed that 6.7% of members said they were 'always' or 'often' bullied at work and 16.7% said 'sometimes'. Only half (51%) said they were fortunate enough to 'never' be bullied at work.

Less than half of all respondents in higher education (only 45.1%) said they were 'never' subjected to personal harassment at work. 7% said they were subjected to it 'always' or 'often' and nearly one in five (18.8%) said they 'sometimes' suffered from personal harassment.

The university with highest percentage of staff who said they are 'always' or 'often' bullied was the University of East London with 16.7%. In an alarming 19 institutions (table below) at least one in 10 respondents to the UCU survey reported being 'always' or 'often' bullied.

Higher education institution

'Always' or 'often' bullied

Number of respondents*

Academic staff among respondents

Survey sample academics as % of institution's total academic staff**

University of East London

16.7%

36

33

4.9%

Kingston University

15.9%

69

51

3.0%

De Montfort University

14.3%

77

70

5.7%

University of Lincoln

13.6%

44

37

5.6%

University of Salford

12.8%

86

53

4.3%

University of Glamorgan

12.5%

48

41

3.6%

University of Ulster

11.9%

143

103

5.7%

Bangor University

11.8%

51

36

5.3%

Manchester Metropolitan University

11.7%

77

68

3.4%

Birmingham City University

11.5%

52

33

2.0%

University of Greenwich

11.4%

35

32

3.0%

University of Westminster

11.3%

62

56

3.0%

Oxford Brookes University

11.1%

45

40

3.4%

University of Gloucestershire

10.9%

46

40

6.8%

University of Hertfordshire

10.9%

46

45

2.7%

University of Dundee

10.6%

94

61

4.4%

University of Portsmouth

10.5%

38

29

2.8%

University of Bradford

10.5%

124

80

12.1%

Queen's University Belfast

10.1%

148

124

7.7%


UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Bullying at work can take many forms and all of them create stress for the victim. Everybody has the right to expect to work in a safe environment free from bullying. Good institutions are ones that are aware of the problem and proactively trying to tackle it. Poor ones are those who refuse to accept there may be a problem or try to place the blame elsewhere.

'We believe bullying to be a deep-seated problem in higher education and we want to know what organisations such as the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association (UCEA) are doing to tackle the problem.'

The results are part of a wider stress survey conducted by UCU that will be released later this month. The union is hosting a Tackling Bullying conference on Thursday 27 November.

* In its survey UCU used the questions from the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) Management Standards Indicator Tool questionnaire. In its Management Standards Analysis Tool User Manual the HSE sets a minimum of 10 people for a group that is being analysed. UCU chose to triple the minimum number of respondents required from an institution to 30 to give a more reliable response rate.

** Source: HESA staff record 2006-7

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