Overpaid and Overbearing: UK University Staff Deliver Withering Assessment of Management

More than three-quarters of UK university staff are dissatisfied with the way their institution is run, according to the preliminary results of a major survey that present damning feedback about the management of the country’s higher education sector.

Early data from the National Senior Management Survey, which is being developed by academics at eight universities, show 76.5% of respondents are not satisfied with the way their institution is managed; barely one in ten – 10.4%  – said they were satisfied.

Other Key Findings:

  • Only 15.9% of respondents agreed that they felt respected and valued by senior management, and 71.6% disagreed
  • Three-quarters (74.1%) said that their senior managers did not deserve the salaries they were paid 
  • More than two-thirds (69.5%) said that their university did not give them enough time to be able to support their students’ needs 
  • Four out of five (79.6%) said that they regularly worked at evenings or weekends to fulfil their academic roles

Some of the individual responses, which are still to be analysed, paint a more detailed picture. One respondent reported on a university that was “a systemically mean-spirited place”, where he or she felt “less a lecturer than a shoe-fitter, such is the overwhelming rush to make students customers. I am sick of the phrase ‘the student experience’. What about the staff experience?”

Another employee experienced “no real support to achieve a good work-life balance, just an increasing workload and a constant drip-feed of negative feedback that suggests we are lazy, incompetent and grasping”.

Despite staff concerns, latest data show that the average salaries of senior management continue to rise more quickly than those of rank-and-file staff.
UK vice-chancellors’ average pay rose by 6.1% in 2014-15, while senior academics such as pro vice-chancellors and heads of school received 3.9%.

The National Student Survey also emerged as a potentially malignant force: only 9.9% agreed that it was being used ethically to encourage the best performance of staff, and 66.7% disagreed.

To complete the survey, which is open until the end of May, visit: smsproject.wordpress.com.

This is an edited version of an article in this weeks Times Higher Education, which can be accessed here: