WORLD VIEWS: UK/US/AUS­TRALIA COM­PAR­ISONS

THE (Times Higher Education) - - OPINION - Paul Jump

Con­cerns about work-life bal­ance ap­pear to be fairly con­sis­tent across the globe. Nev­er­the­less, fil­ter­ing the sur­vey re­sults ac­cord­ing to re­spon­dents’ coun­tries of res­i­dence throws up some in­ter­est­ing nu­ances.

Fo­cus­ing on re­sponses from aca­demics in the UK, the US and Aus­tralia in par­tic­u­lar (which, to­gether, ac­count for 85 per cent of re­sponses by aca­demics) re­veals that Uk-based aca­demics ap­pear to work the hard­est, with 71 per cent of re­spon­dents work­ing nine hours a day or more, and 15 per cent work­ing more than 10 (the high­est cited fig­ure be­ing 18). The fig­ures for the US are 63 and 12 per cent re­spec­tively; for Aus­tralia, 68 and 15 per cent.

The UK is the coun­try where work­loads have in­creased most widely. Of UK re­spon­dents,

46 per cent say that theirs has in­creased over the past three years, com­pared with 32 per cent in Aus­tralia and

30 per cent in the US.

How­ever, UK aca­demics are slightly less likely to work more than five hours at the week­end (38 per cent, com­pared with

46 per cent of US schol­ars and 43 per cent of Aus­tralia-based aca­demics). UK schol­ars are also less likely to work while on hol­i­day (82 per cent, com­pared with 94 and 88 per cent of US and Aus­tralia-based aca­demics re­spec­tively).

US schol­ars are the most likely to have had two or more hol­i­days in the last year (59 per cent, in­clud­ing 12 per cent who have had more than four), while Aus­tralia-based aca­demics are the least likely (48 per cent).

Re­gard­ing chil­dren, sim­i­lar pro­por­tions of re­spon­dents in each coun­try feel that chil­dren hold back their ca­reers. Uk-based aca­demics are less likely to do at least half of the child­care (53 per cent, com­pared with 63 per cent in the US and 64 per cent in Aus­tralia); how­ever, this may partly be ex­plained by the fact that the UK also has a slightly lower pro­por­tion of fe­males among its re­spon­dents (66 per cent, com­pared with 72 per cent of US re­spon­dents and 69 per cent of Aus­tralia-based aca­demics).

US schol­ars are slightly less likely than those in other na­tions not to want any chil­dren, but those that do not are the most likely to say that the in­com­pat­i­bil­ity of par­ent­hood with an aca­demic ca­reer is at least partly to blame (68 per cent, com­pared with 54 per cent of UK and 50 per cent of Aus­tralia-based schol­ars).

Uni­ver­si­ties in Aus­tralia ap­pear to be much bet­ter at pro­vid­ing help with child­care; 51 per cent of re­spon­dents in Aus­tralia say that their in­sti­tu­tion def­i­nitely has a nurs­ery on site, com­pared with 40 per cent in the UK and just 23 per cent in the US.

UK re­spon­dents are more likely to think that their friends have a much bet­ter work-life bal­ance than they do, and to fre­quently con­sider work­ing in a dif­fer­ent sec­tor. US re­spon­dents are the most likely never to con­sider a ca­reer change. Where ca­reer changes are con­sid­ered, US aca­demics would be most keen on find­ing a bet­ter salary, while UK and Aus­tralian schol­ars would be more likely to look for a bet­ter work-life bal­ance.

Of those re­spon­dents who do not have a part­ner, US aca­demics are the most likely to say that their job is an ob­sta­cle to a re­la­tion­ship. US schol­ars are also the most likely to have another aca­demic as a part­ner (37 per cent, com­pared with 31 per cent in Aus­tralia and 30 per cent in the UK). And they are by far the most likely to earn a lot less than their part­ners and friends do.

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