Edinburgh College ‘inhumane’ amid bullying claims

There have been bullying claims at Edinburgh College. Picture: Ian Georgeson
There have been bullying claims at Edinburgh College. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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HUNDREDS of teaching staff are suffering amid a “culture of bullying” and soaring stress levels at Edinburgh College, a major new survey has revealed.

An emerging crisis in relations between staff and management at the newly-merged college was laid bare in research carried out by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest teaching union.

The findings have been slammed by union bosses as evidence of working conditions that were “not conducive to learning and teaching”, and damaging the health of staff.

According to the survey – completed by half of the college’s 500 EIS members – 48 per cent of respondents have been bullied by managers or witnessed bullying, with a further 15 per cent reporting some experience of the problem.

One lecturer, who did not want to be named, said: “I have worked in further education all my life and I have never witnessed such bullying as in the last year. It appears that those most vulnerable, suffering depression or temporary ill-health, are picked on as easy targets. It is disgraceful – it is simply not a humane workplace.”

Stress emerged as another key concern, with union bosses blaming the trend on staff workloads they said had become “untenable”.

A range of stress-related health problems were reported by survey respondents – 74 per cent said they had suffered from depression, 47 per cent had experienced anxiety attacks and 90 per cent had difficulty sleeping.

The findings come as Edinburgh College, formed six months ago through the merger of Stevenson, Telford and Jewel & Esk Valley colleges and now with 35,000 student enrolments, continues to restructure following the Scottish Government’s 
creation of regional college boards.

Mike Cowley, convenor of the College’s EIS branch, said: “The information contained within this document should provide a catalyst for significant reflection in regards to the untenable workloads, and culture of bullying and uncertainty, which have been allowed to take root.”

He added: “We will be seeking urgent talks with management in the hope and expectation that the explicit and unambiguous concerns of staff detailed in the anonymous comments recorded by the survey will be acted on as a matter of urgency.”

Edinburgh College bosses insisted the general wellbeing of lecturers was a key concern. A spokeswoman said: “We already run sessions at all campuses with our occupational nurse, offering assistance, advice and mini health 
check-ups on site.”