An investigation by the Guardian has found that 300 academics at UK universities have been accused of bullying by students or colleagues within the last five years.

Those accused included senior academics and research directors for laboratories.  Staff members and postgraduate students interviewed by the Guardian have described their experiences of a culture of threatening behaviour.  One PhD student accused their academic supervisor of committing ‘career sabotage and intellectual property theft,’ and another described how they were forced to falsify data to avoid the ‘wrath’ of the laboratory director.  Other postgraduate students reported leaving their posts with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Date obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 found that at 105 universities, 216 staff have been disciplined or dismissed for bullying, and at 55 of these universities, a total of 294 complaints have been made against academics.

The request also found that 14 universities used non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to settle bullying cases with financial pay-outs to the victims.  A Freedom of Information request submitted to the University of East Anglia (UEA) on 24thApril 2018 requested information for the total number of NDAs signed by the University.  UEA refused to provide this information under S12 of the Act. It is worth noting that NDAs are likely to cover a range of topics, but they may be regarding bullying accusations.  

If you believe that you are the victim of bullying or harassment by a student or staff member at UEA, then contact a Harassment Advisor in Student Support Services.  Other services such as the Student Union’s Advice Centre and Nightline are able to offer confidential advice and support. If you would be willing to share your experiences then Concrete would love to hear from you.  




  1. You should look into the UEA ITCS staff survey this year. 24% of staff members reported being bullied by senior leaders. Unbelievable.

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