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Types of bullying

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Bullying in academia is workplace bullying of scholars and staff in academia, especially places of higher education such as colleges and universities. It is believed to be common, although has not received as much attention from researchers as bullying in some other contexts.[1]

Various bullying permutations are possible, such as:

  • principal bullying lecturer
  • lecturer bullying lecturer
  • student bullying lecturer
  • lecturer bullying student
  • student bullying another student.

Bullying and academic culture

Several aspects of academia lend themselves to the practice and discourage its reporting and mitigation. Its leadership is usually drawn from the ranks of faculty, most of whom have not received the management training that could enable an effective response to such situations.[2] The perpetrators may possess tenure — a high-status and protected position — or the victims may belong to the increasing number of adjunct professors, who are often part-time employees.[2] Academic victims of bullying may also be particularly conflict-averse.[2]

The generally decentralized nature of academic institutions can make it difficult for victims to seek recourse, and appeals to outside authority have been described as "the kiss of death."[3][4] Therefore, academics who are subject to bullying in workplace are often cautious about notifying problems. Social media is recently used to reveal bullying in academia anonymously.[5]


Kenneth Westhues' study of mobbing in academia found that vulnerability was increased by personal differences such as being a foreigner or of a different sex; by working in a post-modern field such as music or literature; financial pressure; or having an aggressive superior.[6] Other factors included envy, heresy and campus politics.[6]


Bullying in this workplace has been described as somewhat more subtle than usual.[4] Its recipients may be the target of unwanted physical contact, violence, obscene or loud language during meetings, be disparaged among their colleagues in venues they are not aware of, and face difficulties when seeking promotion.[4][7] It may also be manifested by undue demands for compliance with regulations.[8]


A 2008 study of the topic, conducted on the basis of a survey at a Canadian university [specify]

, concluded that the practice had several unproductive costs, including increased employee turnover.[9]


In 2008 the United Kingdom's University and College Union released the results of a survey taken among its 9,700 members.[10] 51% of respondents said they had never been bullied, 16.7% that they had occasionally experienced it, and 6.7% that they were "always" or "often" subjected to bullying.[10] The results varied by member institutions, with respondents from the University of East London reporting the highest incidence.[10]

The Times Higher Education commissioned a survey in 2005 and received 843 responses.[7] Over 40% reported they had been bullied, with 33% reporting "unwanted physical contact" and 10% reporting physical violence; about 75% reported they were aware that co-workers had been bullied.[7] The incidence rate found in this survey was higher than that usually found via internal polling (12 to 24 percent).[7]

Author C. K. Gunsalus describes the problem as "low incidence, high severity," analagous to research misconduct.[3] She identifies the aggressors' misuse of the concepts of academic freedom and collegiality as a commonly used strategy.[3]

Bullying of medical students

Main article: Bullying in medicine

In a 2005 British study, around 35% of medical students reported having been bullied. Around one in four of the 1,000 students questioned said they had been bullied by a doctor, while one in six had been bullied by a nurse. Manifestations of bullying included:[11]

  • being humiliated by teachers in front of patients
  • been victimised for not having come from a "medical family"
  • being put under pressure to carry out a procedure without supervision.

See also


  1. Keashly L Faculty Experiences with Bullying in Higher Education Causes, Consequences, and Management - Administrative Theory & Praxis Volume 32, Number 1 March 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Macgorine A. Cassell, Fairmont State University. Bullying In Academe: Prevalent, Significant, and Incessant (2010 IABR & ITLC Conference Proceedings ). The Clute Institute for Academic Research. URL accessed on 2011-03-08.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 C. K. Gunsalus (30 September 2006). The college administrator's survival guide, 124–125, Harvard University Press. URL accessed 7 March 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 (August 2009) An Academic Life: A Handbook for New Academics, Australian Council for Educational Research. URL accessed 8 March 2011.
  5. Reveal bullying in academia, 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Workplace Bullying in the Academic World?, Higher Education Development Association, 13 May 2007, 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Anthea Lipsett. Bullying rife across campus. Times Higher Education. URL accessed on 2011-03-08.
  8. Workplace Mediators Seek a Role in Taming Faculty Bullies. The Chronicle of Higher Education. URL accessed on 2011-03-09.
  9. McKay, R. Arnold, D. H. Fratzl, J. Thomas, R.. Workplace Bullying In Academia: A Canadian Study. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal Volume 20, Number 2, Pages 77-100 2008. URL accessed on 2011-03-07.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 (2009) Students and universities: eleventh report of session 2008-09, Vol. 2: Oral and written evidence, 531–532, The Stationery Office. URL accessed 8 March 2011.
  11. Curtis P Medical students complain of bullying The Guardian 4 May 2005

Further reading


Academic papers

External links

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Articles related to Abuse

Types of bullying

Forms of bullying


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