Working at the university is unhealthy

20-02-2017, 16:03

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Two-thirds of Radboud University employees describe their workload as high or too high according to a study conducted by the FNV Bondgenoten union in January, which included the results for Nijmegen. The workload at Radboud University is just as high as at other universities. 'It's time to do something.'

The figures on university workloads may come as a bit of a shock (see text box). ‘The researchers are under so much pressure, they can barely afford to call in sick’, says president of the FNV campus board Hans Elvers. ‘That has to change. It’s time to do something.’

Sixty percent has considered switching jobs due to the workload

Trade union official Elizabeth van Wensveen sees a ray of light in this situation. ‘You can compare it to global warming: we’ve been calling attention to the high workload for years, and we’ve now reached a point where there’s no denying it anymore.’ She points in particular to the high workload of non-academic staff. ‘They have fewer and fewer people to take on the constantly increasing workload.’

Taking action
While it’s high time to take action, Hans Elvers doesn’t think the entire focus should lie with the Executive Board. ‘This issue has the attention of our board, but the workload involves a lot of factors that fall outside the scope of the university’s influence.’ Elvers points to the workload causes mentioned in the survey, such as an increase in student numbers, growing publication pressure, and the lengthy grant application process.

Reducing the considerable number of temporary employees is at the top of the to-do list for the two FNV representatives. Thirty percent of the work rests squarely on the shoulders of temporary employees at Radboud University and other universities. Elvers is calling for more permanent contracts in the hope of removing uncertainty among the large number of flexible employees and reducing overall work pressure for the teams. ‘This will make it easier to transfer work activities and to make sound work agreements’, says Van Wensveen. ‘It will also improve cohesion in the teams.’

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