Ca­reer im­pact on re­la­tion­ships worst for ju­nior a ca­demics, sur­vey shows

THE (Times Higher Education) - - LEADER - El­lie.both­well@timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­

The pres­sures of aca­demic life on fam­ily and re­la­tion­ships are felt most keenly by ju­nior re­searchers, Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion’s first global work-life bal­ance sur­vey re­veals.

Among re­spon­dents who do not cur­rently have a part­ner, more than half of doc­toral stu­dents and post­doc­toral re­searchers (51 per cent) said that their job gets in the way of their abil­ity to con­duct a suc­cess­ful re­la­tion­ship “a lot”, com­pared with 48 per cent of pro­fes­sors, 45 per cent of lec­tur­ers and 44 per cent of se­nior lec­tur­ers.

Just 3 per cent of post­doc­toral re­searchers and 5 per cent of doc­toral stu­dents and lec­tur­ers said that their job does not get in the way at all, com­pared with 13 per cent of pro­fes­sors and 18 per cent of se­nior lec­tur­ers.

The find­ings have been drawn from THE’S Work-life Bal­ance Sur­vey, which re­ceived re­sponses from 2,379 higher ed­u­ca­tion staff, of whom 2,011 are aca­demics, be­tween Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber 2017. Among aca­demic re­spon­dents, 62 per cent work in the UK, 10 per cent in another Euro­pean coun­try, 17 per cent in the US and 6 per cent in Aus­tralia.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­sults, ju­nior aca­demics who are par­ents were far more likely to say that their chil­dren hold back their ca­reer than their se­nior coun­ter­parts; 53 per cent of doc­toral stu­dents and 46 per cent of post­docs said that their chil­dren hold back their ca­reer “sig­nif­i­cantly” or “a great deal”, com­pared with 38 per cent of lec­tur­ers, 35 per cent of se­nior lec­tur­ers, 29 per cent of depart­ment heads and 25 per cent of pro­fes­sors.

Among those who do not in­tend to have chil­dren, 38 per cent of PHD stu­dents and 37 per cent of post­docs said that this de­ci­sion is “en­tirely” or “mostly” due to fears that do­ing so would be in­com­pat­i­ble with their ca­reer. Just 27 per cent of lec­tur­ers, 22 per cent of se­nior lec­tur­ers and depart­ment heads, and 15 per cent of pro­fes­sors said the same.

Early ca­reer re­searchers were also twice as likely as pro­fes­sors to con­sider work­ing else­where; al­most half of PHD stu­dents and post­doc­toral re­searchers (46 per cent) said that they “fre­quently” or “reg­u­larly” con­sider work­ing in a dif­fer­ent sec­tor, com­pared with 23 per cent of pro­fes­sors.

The ma­jor­ity of aca­demics (52 per cent) said that they would rec­om­mend their job to their chil­dren “with reser­va­tions”, but

the most se­nior staff are most likely to fully en­dorse their ca­reer choice. More than one-fifth of pro­fes­sors (23 per cent) and depart­ment heads (22 per cent) said that they would “whole­heart­edly” rec­om­mend their job, com­pared with just 8 per cent of post­doc­toral re­searchers.

De­spite th­ese find­ings, se­nior schol­ars typ­i­cally work longer hours than their ju­nior col­leagues. Depart­ment heads and pro­fes­sors are most likely to work 10 hours per week­day on av­er­age, while lec­tur­ers and post­docs are most likely to work nine hours.

Roger Seifert, pro­fes­sor of hu­man re­source man­age­ment and in­dus­trial re­la­tions at the Univer­sity of Wolver­hamp­ton Busi­ness School, said that the find­ings re­flect re­search on staff in other work­places such as hos­pi­tals and schools, which “share the same con­text of harsher pen­sion ar­range­ments, fall­ing rel­a­tive pay, less job se­cu­rity, weaker ca­reer paths, and re­stricted job au­ton­omy”.

“In par­tic­u­lar, ju­nior aca­demics suf­fer from frus­tra­tion over poor man­age­ment of their uni­ver­si­ties cou­pled with ex­ces­sive se­nior man­age­ment pay; over­work­ing, es­pe­cially with the in­creased bu­reau­cracy as­so­ci­ated with stu­dent cadres pay­ing their own fees; and a much tougher re­search en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

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