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CAUT Bulletin Archives

May 1999

Workloads Worry University Staff

New Zealand

Four in ten university staff suffer frequent job stress according to a study commissioned by the Association of University Staff of New Zealand and authored by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Workload and Stress in New Zealand Universities, an update of a 1994 study, paints a grim picture of increasing workloads, loss of research time and the negative impacts of university restructuring.

Stress levels were highest for academic staff with nearly half reporting frequent job stress, while twice as many academics believed the quality of their teaching and research had deteriorated as a result of changes in the workplace.

Other findings in the study include: more staff reported a work-related illness or injury than in 1994; of those reporting a work-related illness or injury, most reported general stress effects (e.g., insomnia), or general illness/feeling run down; compared to 1994, significantly more academics reported a decrease in the quality of their physical health; work-related stress was linked to work and workloads, rather than content of jobs; stress levels were higher for those working more hours per week, taking work home or working in the evenings, employed part-time, or feeling some insecurity about their employment; and, less than half the present staff expected to be in university employment in five years' time.

AUS says morale is at an all time low and the survey puts to death "the image deliberately put across by the government that university staff are a lazy elite who spend one third the year on holiday and whinge about accountability."

Copies of Workload and Stress in New Zealand Universities are available for purchase from NZCER or AUS -- contact Anna Chalmers at NZCER or Michael Gibbs at AUS

Source: AUS Bulletin, December 1998.