Belfast Telegraph

Queen's University has 'toxic management culture', survey claims

A “toxic management culture” at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) has led to many academic staff leaving, a survey has claimed.

The BBC has reported on an exit survey carried out by the University and College Union (UCU) last year which involved staff who left the university between 2015 and 2017.

The university has responded to the survey, saying it is committed to promoting and providing a positive work environment for its staff.

Eighty five former staff completed the survey on their reasons for leaving QUB, with a further 12 providing interviews or written statements.

Nearly half of the former staff who responded were from the faculty of arts, humanities and social sciences. A third were from engineering and physical sciences.

The majority were permanent full-time academic staff.

Around a quarter of respondents said they left QUB due to a better offer from another university.

The survey stated 90% of respondents said their current working conditions are better than those they had at QUB.

Many female respondents said a lack of promotion opportunities and career prospects were cited as the main reasons for leaving.

The survey stated: “This confirms the existence of a general problem with promotion and career development at Queen’s which is felt more acutely by women who face additional obstacles in climbing the career ladder.”

The former staff also cited high workloads and poor relationships with management among the reasons for leaving the university.

The document said: “Bullying is mentioned consistently throughout the qualitative data as being enduring, constant and accepted as part of management culture.

“The management culture is widely seen as toxic and punitive, overly focused on a reductive understanding of the university as a business.”

The BBC has reported that the results of the survey were given to senior managers and the university senate last year.

The document added: “It might be expected that a significant proportion of employees leaving an institution would be critical of their former employers.

“However, not only are the comments in the survey overwhelmingly negative, some themes are recurrent and align closely with the findings of the staff survey collected by Queen’s management in April 2016.”

A spokesman for Queen's University said: "Queen’s University is committed to promoting and providing a positive and enriching work environment. 

"In April 2016, some 2,479 staff participated in a Staff Survey which was facilitated by an independent external consultant.  This compares to 85 leavers who contributed to the UCU Exit Survey.

"The University, in partnership with its staff, is implementing a comprehensive action plan in response to the priority areas identified in the Staff Survey. In addition, a new People and Culture Strategy has been developed and launched to further enhance the work environment."

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