A qualitative study of UK academic role: positive features, negative aspects and associated stressors in a mainly teaching-focused university

DARABI, Mitra, MACASKILL, Ann and REIDY, Lisa (2016). A qualitative study of UK academic role: positive features, negative aspects and associated stressors in a mainly teaching-focused university. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 41 (4), 566-580.

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Official URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03098...
Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2016.1159287


The literature demonstrates that stress in the working life of academics has increased over recent years (Kinman, 2014). However, qualitative research on how academics cope with changes in working life and associated stress is limited. This paper examines how a sample of 31 academics in a post-92 predominantly teaching-focused UK university cope with teaching, research/scholarship and administration, what they perceive to be positive about work, what is less valued and what is stressful. Online interviews were used to maximise participation. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Six themes emerged from the data. These were administrative loads, coping with stress at work, task preferences in the academic role, features of the academic role, positive and negative feelings around research/scholarship, and thoughts around leaving the academic environment. The factors that contributed to stress included the increasing the number of students, heavy workloads, increasing administration, poor management, funding cuts, and government initiatives threatening the future of education. Academics reported as negatives that they had less time to interact with students because of increasing administration, difficulties obtaining sufficient funding for research in particular, and feeling that academic posts were less secure. All of this led to greater job dissatisfaction. However, support from colleagues and taking steps to manage their time more effectively were identified as factors that can moderate some of the negative consequences of work stress. Academics overall reported being happy at work because of the satisfactions gained from teaching, their relationships with students, the levels of work autonomy, and support from colleagues.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Psychology Research Group
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2016.1159287
Page Range: 566-580
Depositing User: Ann Macaskill
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2015 10:35
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 00:49
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10284

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