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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2007, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
'Bullied' academics' blog attack
Hand writing
Researchers claim bullying in university is an open secret
Academics who say they have been bullied are using a blog to record their experiences of alleged unfair treatment within universities.

There are complaints about "Orwellian" tactics against lecturers within academic departments - and claims of staff being forced out of their jobs.

"Despite the anti-bullying policies, bullying is rife across campuses," is one of the claims on a website.

And it warns of a culture of secrecy surrounding such academic bullying.

"The bullying of academics follows a pattern of horrendous, Orwellian elimination rituals, often hidden from the public," says the introduction to a website which carries allegations of bullying in higher education.


A contributor who wants to remain anonymous says it gives a voice to academics who have been bullied.

"It's a critical issue - there are people in universities almost reaching the point of suicide over this. It really is that serious," she says.

As well as attacking bullies - both among academic staff and management - the website also talks of the phenomenon of "mobbing", in which lecturers gang up against a colleague.

A contributor defines this as the action of "a mob, a crowd of normal people who have temporarily lost their good sense".

There have been longstanding accusations that higher education has a culture of bullying.

Petra Boynton at University College London has carried out research into academic bullying - and says that at any one time, between 10% and 30% of staff are being bullied.

"It's a 'secret' that everyone knows," she says - with her research finding that bullies, established in positions of power, could be "getting away with it for decades".


Bullying in universities is typically an insidious, prolonged undermining of individuals, she says - often against staff who feel they have little power to prevent it.

"In some academic areas, it can be a very small world - and bullies can have the power to stop people progressing in their career. And if someone complains, they can be told the equivalent of 'you'll never work in this town again'."

University departments can act like closed "fiefdoms", she says, with only limited opportunities for staff to expose bullying tactics - "which can be so consistent that it's almost pathological".

Even when universities take action against bullies, she says this is often kept quiet - giving the impression to victims that there is little chance of their complaints being taken seriously.

And for the victims, trapped in sustained bullying, she says it can lead to a destructive loss of self-confidence which can lead them to leave the academic world entirely.

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