UCL staff morale at its lowest point because it is ‘being run as a business’

68 per cent disagreed UCL was ‘well managed’

Morale among the staff at UCL has reached an “all-time low” due to worries about the management and future of the institution, as revealed in a survey by The Guardian.

UCL is rated as one of the best universities in the UK and the world, however, in addition to being ranked fourth worst uni for student satisfaction in the UK, there seems to be profound discontentment among staff.

The survey was completed by more than a third of the board, around 500 staff members, whom expressed doubts about the financial management of the university and skepticism regarding its ambitious plans of expansion.

Student numbers at UCL have doubled in less than a decade to 39,000, and there are plans to expand further.

Before the Brexit vote, UCL signed a £280m deal with the European Investment Bank – the largest sum ever lent by the bank to a university and part of a wider £1.25bn programme to develop its Bloomsbury campus and build the UCL East campus, which first phase is scheduled to open in 2020.

However, it seems that academics disagree with such plans. Fewer than one in 10 agreed that the increase in student numbers would improve UCL, radically outnumbered by the 67.8 per cent who disagreed and the 31 per cent who were unsure. More than 41 per cent opposed the expansion plans.

Overall, 68 per cent of respondents disagreed with the statement, “UCL is well managed”, followed by a 60 per cent disagreement with the statement, “UCL makes good financial decisions”.

The comments given also express discontentment and concern. One commenter said: “We feel part of an anonymous revenue-driven machine and it is currently hard to feel valued by UCL.”

Another academic wrote: “Staff morale at all-time low! UCL is being run as a business and not as a university.”

In response to the survey, Prof Michael Arthur, provost and president of UCL, said that the university was undergoing a major programme of chance to build “this fantastic, world class university into one that lasts for decades and centuries to come”.

He continued that it was not surprising not everyone was happy, since the morale issues are about “change and a change program that some people don’t like”.

However it seems that, as suggested by a respondent to the survey, UCL needs to realign its priorities in order to improve the satisfaction of its staff and students.

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