Study: UK Academics Getting Sick From Job Stress

Academics and professors are feeling bogged down by the mounting pressures of their profession. A great amount of stress is put on professors. They are charged with teaching lectures, grading work, being available to support their students’ learning, and publishing graduate level work.

A study done in the United Kingdom shows that mounting pressures on academics to do an “impossible” amount of work can lead to mental illnessess and depression. The study was done by The Guardian and discovered that two-thirds of more than 2,500 academics see their mental issues as directly due to the pressures put on them by their university, writes Carrie Shaw in an exclusive article for The Guardian.

They also state that there is a lack of support from universities to their plight and that they are expected to do more and more as time goes on. The academics ranged from PhD students to vice chancellors.

The pressure to publish is also prevalent among academics, says Shaw. With all of their other responsibilities, it is hard to find time to write and publish their works. Many academics raised the issue of a “bullying culture” within the university system.  

Job insecurity and a culture of long working hours are also key pressures facing academics, with more than one-third of those in the 25-34 age group feeling that the unreasonable working standards are affecting their work-to-life balance.

“As 21st century academics, the expectations on us are, in effect, impossible,” says Rosie Miles, senior lecturer in English at the University of Wolverhampton.It is simply not possible at any one time to research effectively, teach well, deal with endless administrative demands, put in major grant bids, be permanently available to students, mark (often lots of) work and have some kind of sensible, balanced work-life ratio.”

It seems that staff in post-1992 universities feel more of the unreasonable pressures put on them than their Russell Group universities’ compatriots, reports Shaw. Staff in post-1992 institutions feel that they have a heavier workload than the Russell Group universities’ staff.

They point to heavier student demands as a key problem. As students and parents pay more and more for college as time goes by, they are more demanding of their professor’s support and want to get their money’s worth. Others point to funding cuts, which force teachers to do more work without help.

Many staff members claim that they are not getting enough support from their university, but many institutions are disputing that claim. Many have on-site counselors and psychologists that both staff and students alike can go to to get help. Most of the staff who do come to the counselor’s office come for work-related issues, such as not getting along with another staff member or feeling overwhelmed by their workload.