Only 5.3% of academics at the University of Manchester are satisfied with the senior management and governance of the university, according to a new academic paper that has warned that the UK Higher Education sector is “on the edge of potential disaster”.
The University of Manchester ranked 57thout of 78 UK universities for staff satisfaction with senior management, receiving the fourth lowest score of all Russell Group universities. However, the University maintains that their own surveys show high staff satisfaction, and that measures have been put in place to increase staff engagement with senior management.
The UK higher education senior management survey aims to investigate UK academics’ satisfaction with senior management and governance at their universities. 5,888 members of academic staff across the UK’s Higher Education sector were surveyed.
Across all UK universities, the mean satisfaction score was 10.54%, which the paper’s authors called “a stark indictment of the current state of the UK Higher Education sector”.
The paper also identified seven major themes contributing to this low satisfaction rate, including “the dominance and brutality of metrics”, “excessive workload”, and “work and mental health”.
Responses to the survey criticised senior management across the UK for misusing student funds to embark on “vanity projects”, “silencing” staff, and a lack of accountability.
In their conclusion, the paper’s authors said the results revealed “an acute situation of endemic bullying and harassment, chronic overwork, high levels of mental health problems, general health and wellbeing problems, and catastrophically high levels of demoralisation and dissatisfaction across the UK HE sector.”
In December, The Mancunion published an investigation into staff satisfaction with senior management during the recent University and College Union (UCU) strikes, where a number of academic staff raised concerns over the handling of the strikes by the university’s senior management, with some staff criticising what they called “draconian approaches to running a university”.
Only three Russell Group universities ranked lower than UoM: University College London (59th), University of Birmingham (64th), and Queen’s University Belfast (75th). The highest scoring institution was Oxford University, with 36.60% of staff satisfied with how the university was being managed. At three institutions, 0% of respondents were satisfied with university management.
A spokesperson for the University of Manchester said: “The research and survey in question is based on a very small sample size used of self-selecting staff. This would be deemed unacceptable for the National Student Survey (NSS).
“Our own most recent Staff Survey (69% response rate, over 7,000 staff) last year found that 92% of our employees thought the University was a good place to work, 89% were proud to work for the University and 81% felt they are valued by the people they work with.
“Nevertheless we have put in place numerous additional means to increase staff engagement with senior management.”
The paper found no patterns that suggested any correlation between factors such as geographical location and research-intensity and the satisfaction score at universities.
“The only conclusion we can draw is that the competence of senior managers is distributed randomly across the sector, and staff in any particular institution may simply be lucky or otherwise to have a good management team or a poor one.
“Judging by these results, UK HE staff are more likely than not to encounter a poor senior management team.”