Disharmony at work says survey on day of bullying conference

27 November 2008 | last updated: 11 December 2015

On the eve of a central London bullying conference UCU today reveals that a culture of bullying and personal harassment in higher education is creating discord between work colleagues who complain of strained working relationships.

 

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. The results are part of a wide-ranging survey of UCU members across the post-16 education spectrum that will be released next month.

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 survey further revealed that over a third of those surveyed (35.3%) 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' with the statement that 'relationships at work are strained' and only 2.8% said that there was never friction or anger between colleagues.

Main findings from the survey:

 

I am subject to personal harassment at work

There is friction or anger between colleagues

I am subject to bullying at work

Never

45.1%

2.8%

51%

Seldom

29.2%

26%

25.6%

Sometimes

18.8%

43.7%

16.7%

Often

5.5%

20.9%

5.1%

Always

1.5%

6.6%

1.6%

 

Relationships at work are strained

Strongly agree

9.6%

Agree

25.7%

Neutral

27.8%

Disagree

29.0%

Strongly disagree

7.9%


UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Bullying at work can take many forms and all of them create stress for the victim and do nothing to foster a good working environment. Everybody has the right to expect to work in a safe environment free from bullying; sadly these results suggest that is not the case and working relationships are increasingly strained. Good institutions are ones that are aware of the problems and proactively trying to tackle them. 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. Our conference today is an ideal opportunity for our activists to share their issues, listen to experts in the field and help drive UCU's next steps in the campaign to stop bullying at work.'

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%

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