Data Check: faculty stress rises as budgets fall in US public institutions

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The latest survey of faculty by the Higher Education Research Institute indicates that stress levels have gone up for full-time faculty members at US universities and four-year colleges. The single most common cause of “some” or “extensive” stress for those at public universities is “institutional budget cuts” – cited by 86 per cent of respondents, as compared to 47 per cent at private universities.
 
For faculty at public universities, workload was also a source of stress – 85 per cent cited “self imposed high expectations” and 82 per cent pointed to “lack of personal time” as causes of anxiety. Next on the list is “working with unprepared students” and “institutional procedures or ‘red tape’.” Similar proportions of respondents identified “research or publishing demands” and “managing household responsibilities” as additional stressors.
 
There were significant gender differences in stress due to managing household responsibilities for faculty at public universities: 82 per cent of women experienced stress as a result, compared to 70 per cent of men. Noticeable differences occur in the career commitment dimension as well: 89 and 88 per cent of women indicated that self-expectations and personal time constraints were points of stress for them respectively.
 
No comparable data exists for Canadian or Ontario faculty, but with public expenditures static or declining, and with workload climbing, we can expect our academic women and men to be experiencing similar strain.
 
Higher Education Research Institute, Undergraduate Teaching Faculty: The 2010-2011 HERI Faculty Survey; Undergraduate Teaching Faculty: The 2010-2011 HERI Faculty Survey Expanded Tables; The American College Teacher: National Norms for the 2007-2008 HERI Faculty Survey

This article originally appeared in the OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week in your inbox, please subscribe.

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