KUALA LUMPUR: The majority of university staff in the world say they are overworked and underpaid.
They feel their careers have a detrimental impact on their relationships with their friends, families and partners, and that they have thought of changing careers.
These are among the findings of the Times Higher Education’s (THE) first major global survey of university staff’s views on their work-life balance.
A report on the THE website, however, did not say if anyone from Malaysia had participated in the survey.
It said 2,379 higher education staff – of whom 85% were academics and 67% female – had given their their views on their workload and their ability to balance their careers with their personal lives. The survey was carried out between October and November 2017.
It said staff from 56 countries across six continents were represented in the survey, but almost two-thirds of respondents (61%) were from the UK, 17% from the US and 5% from Australia.
Among the main findings are:
- Many staff believe they are paid less and have a worse work-life balance than most of their friends;
- A large majority of staff have considered leaving the higher education sector;
- Many staff say that their job restricts their ability to see their friends and gets in the way of their ability to conduct a successful relationship;
- Most university staff with children – especially women – believe that their family life holds back their career to some degree, while many of those who do not intend to have children have made that decision because of their career;
- The majority of staff would recommend their job to their children, despite the fact that most academics and a significant proportion of other staff report working well beyond their contracted hours, including during weekends and holidays;
- There is a gulf between the views of academics and professional staff in many areas when it comes to work-life balance, with the latter much more content than the former.
The report said the workload of people who work at universities appeared to be on the rise,with about two-fifths of all university staff saying they had been working longer hours during the working week over the past three years.
The highest proportion of academic respondents work nine hours per weekday; this falls to eight hours for professional and support staff. Academics are twice as likely as professional staff to work 10 or more hours per weekday; 40% of scholars said they did so, compared with 20% of non-academics.
Meanwhile, 31% of scholars and 27% of administrators typically work on both days over the weekend. Nearly half of academics typically work one day at the weekend (49%), compared with just over a third of professionals (37%). Two-fifths of scholars (40%) tend to work six or more hours over the weekend; just 15% of professional staff do so.
The THE report said a sense of an unmanageable workload was often blamed for raising stress and anxiety levels, especially among academics.
More than two-fifths (43%) of female academics who have children said parenthood held back their career “significantly” or “a great deal”. In contrast only 25% of male academics said this was so.
The majority of respondents to the survey – 56% of academics and 60% of professionals – currently do not have children. The report said this might partly reflect the fact that 57% of academic respondents and 56% of non-academic respondents were under the age of 40.
An overwhelming majority of university staff have considered working in a different sector, with 85% of both academic and professional staff saying they thought about this at least occasionally.