University of Newcastle (UK)

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University of Newcastle (UK) Reviews

Updated Jul 14, 2014
University of Newcastle (UK) – Newcastle upon Tyne – “King's Walk June 2013”

All Employees Current Employees Only

3.9 22 reviews

100% Approve of the CEO

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Sir Liam Donaldson

(2 ratings)

79% of employees recommend this company to a friend
22 Employee Reviews
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    • Culture & Values
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    Excellent company to work for!

    Accounts Clerk (Current Employee) Newcastle upon Tyne, England (UK)

    ProsWorking for the Uni is the best decision I ever made. The training opportunites are second to none, great ways to progress. working conditions are fantastic and staff are very polite and helpful

    ConsIf you want to progress you have to go for it, hard work pays off in the end

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    friendly people, freedom to work on own project, but invisible line manager (group has no vision)

    Research Associate (Current Employee) Newcastle upon Tyne, England (UK)

    ProsI am given freedom to work on my own projects, colleagues are friendly, and there is cross-departmental collaboration going on.

    I have been encouraged to apply for my own funding, but I am not convinced that this is what I want. The personal career advise service was helpful, though.

    Cons- People are squeezed into noisy open plan offices and expected to perform optimally. This is not only at my own department, but at multiple departments across the university.
    - IT facilitates are insufficient: The university e-mail account is only 2Gb. IT problems usually take months to be fixed.
    - My post-doc salary is low (£28k) and there is no opportunity to earn extra money in my department.
    - Some of the buildings (not all) are old and dusty, make sure you see your work environment before you take up a job

    Advice to Senior ManagementProfessor, your phd is over, stop doing your own projects, networking trips, and personal development courses. Instead, start to learn to be an effective leader. You are invisible as a leader. Maybe you could turn up at our monthly group meeting and actually meet your staff for the PDR instead of waiving it off as a bureaucratic necessity which can be dealt with over e-mail.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

     

    Easy going and varied work

    Jobs On Campus (Current Employee) Newcastle upon Tyne, England (UK)

    ProsWorked as a student temp worker while studying there, varied roles included cleaning, bar work, catering and office work. This allowed me to develop a wide range of skills. You meet many interesting people and the managers at the different roles are all welcoming and happy to offer help/guidance. It is temping work and so it is easy to choose when and for how long you would like to work (for example the holidays, on evenings, wednesday afternoons etc).

    ConsIt can be difficult joining a team in the middle of a project only for a couple of days as it doesn't give you enough of a chance to get to know people.

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    • Culture & Values
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    Interesting and varied work with the opportunity to meet loads of people.

    Student Ambassador (Current Employee) Newcastle upon Tyne, England (UK)

    ProsYou get to meet a wide range of very interesting people ranging all ages. The university has a very strong ethos when it comes to student experience and environmental practice.

    ConsA single payment method instead of constantly having to fill in financial details.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    I gave my all to Newcastle when I did my marking and my teaching and what did I get back? Below minimum wage & no thanks

    Marker, Mentor to Other Markers, Teacher, Seminar Tutor, Lecturer (Current Employee) Newcastle, England (UK)

    ProsIt has been an opportunity to give so much of value to undergraduates, PGTs and PGRs - in stimulating their thinking, challenging them, yet also learning much from them, too, in fact, as teaching is a dialogic engagement, at its best. It also enabled me to gain certain new skills and a further experience of teaching, lecturing and marking in academia. I love to teach and to add value to student experience, despite being undervalued, in reality, except in terms of some complimentary words that ultimately meant little and seem now to have been offered only to extract more work and value from me for so little remuneration - at least that is now the strong perception, as I piece my history teaching here at Newcastle together: the sad fragments that are now left. This is also the case with others, too, however, as many postgraduate researchers find themselves in such a situation where their labour is barely remunerated and thus objectively hardly valued. Lecturers, too, have often confided such to me as well, both in terms of the good and also in terms of the bad. The reason I mention some bad here is because even the pros have sucked me in to gain more value from me - work gone spectacularly unremunerated by me here at Newcastle. So, to be truthful in the truest way, the pros even have been used as cons. In this institutional context, alas. Hence why I mention them here, too, then!

    ConsAcademia - and at Newcastle, this is so, too - is becoming more and more like a sausage factory - process the work quickly and efficiently, no matter how deeply and excellently one manages to feed back. Into the bargain, one will not be valued in a truly fair and rewarding financial way. I put so many hours including vast amounts of effort into my work and for what? No commendation at the end of it, some fine words on the way while I was needed and in relation to the past, yet once my term came to an end, what? Very little indeed and some might say a big fat nothing - with no final words of thanks (for my work is probably more or less all done). Work-life balance is hard when you are expected to do a really good or even a brilliant job within very strict deadlines. One can end up almost killing oneself, what with the other commitments of a busy researcher, too. Pay has also not gone up for postgraduate workers for a number of years (or, if it has, by hardly anything and from a low base). This is also the case for full lecturers and other staff, too, while senior management award themselves very high pay rises. This I consider outrageous. Who adds value by teaching the students, by marking, by even giving lectures? And for what? I had been proud to work for Newcastle University and saw myself as doing a grand job, until, that is, I felt undervalued and realised that I had put in all too much and got so little back in return. Vulnerable staff who are deeply committed will be used and the maximum of exploitation will be extracted from them/us. And it is systemic, with PGRs paid at a very low rate especially in terms of those who have prior lecturing experience (but this is not an argument for a tired pay structure, but for more rigorous training!).

    Academia deserves to be better than this. And I for one am very disappointed. UCU needs to look into these questions far more systematically, too, and try to help PGRs and other workers in vulnerable positions to improve their pay and their levels of support to each other - a culture of co-operation needs to be developed - by UCU as well as by the University. Why is this not happening? Does one wonder why UCU membership seems to be declining and dissatisfaction with the university increasing in the mood music behind closed doors of staff - of the best and most committed staff often? If no or little action is taken and no consistent and principled fight launched to rectify this situation, why would people wish to remain in such unions or indeed in Newcastle University? I am of course a member of UCU as well as ideally proud to be associated with teaching and training at Newcastle University. On the basis of high principle and fairness, I have engaged in strike action, for example, but the organisation of UCU, albeit it (its members) of course has good intentions, needs to be more than a mere talking shop with little bite behind it. Leadership within UCU, nationally and in local branches, then, is crucial, but more or as importantly as that, much leadership is required from Newcastle University as an organisation to make its workplace a good and a happy one, full of the joys of teaching, learning and development of all for all: not a top-down culture, but an inclusive and co-operative one that evens out and smooths out all invidious remuneration differentials is needed. For that, the Vice-Chancellor and senior management should keep their own pay right down (yes, endure some real cuts and share the distribution of a healthy pie more fully and widely) and not turn universities into cut and thrust big businesses and in doing so, deprave and dissipate our intellectual and academic culture in a de facto philistine direction. Sharing and co-operation are essential to this new culture I am urging upon management, which will re-incentivise the vast majority of staff, if implemented substantially.

    We need to change and accentuate co-operation before so much of the richesse disappears down the vast bottomless pits of pay packets for the top ten percent or so, as compared with feeble, virtually non-existent rises for the vast majority of workers at Newcastle University and this means on all levels, not just for academic or part-time academic staff (cleaners and their conditions of work are a real case in point: how an organisation treats the most vulnerable of workers in its midst tells one much about an organisation and there are all kinds of inequities and unfairnesses that cleaners have raised with me before, such as: when someone is off sick, the cleaners who nonetheless still come to work must take up the slack of the workers who are absent, with no extra remuneration or pay for overtime or the like; this is poor practice indeed and it should be stopped and another system adopted; perhaps others could be asked to come in and offered the work instead - for favourable rates of pay, or the staff who do come in that day might be offered higher remuneration and compensation for that extra work needing to be undertaken, yet it is a problem that happens again and again at Newcastle University and cleaners often complain justly of this unfair extra burden).

    Another kind of education is possible, for otherwise, all the best people in academia (as well as good support workers) will be driven away and all that will be left is the careerist types, senior management or higher bureaucrats and the likely self-interested chancers who tend to dominate the top positions. Believe you me, I have discussed this unhappiness with a good number of fine academics here, too, and they absolutely agree with me. A fair portion of those are being driven away, little by little, yet seemingly ineluctably so! And many others are getting increasingly restless and disgruntled. What is being sown here, Newcastle University? 'Mene mene tekel u-pharsim' - thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting, are you not?

    Advice to Senior ManagementI recommend that PGRs be valued more in terms of remuneration; that they be treated with respect and dignity and that they be thanked, as well as looked at as having often as many if not fresher skills or ideas than many current staff here have even, with therefore much of value and loads to offer, even in terms of module creation or even larger plans with the HASS faculty and the like: fresh ideas, energy, enthusiasm, new structures, training programmes to replace long since critiqued and old-style courses drawn up long ago and not updated. All this positivity and energy can be tapped, so long as cynicism and maltreatment does not erode this, or interests from above do not tend to block change and radical re-configuration of courses, modeule, research training programmes and the like... Look carefully and value what human capital you have, without (mis)judging or being judgemental in other ways in relation to a number of staff that may have complex histories; let more international students work, without using this as a reason to pay them immensely low pay, but instead getting the experienced to train, for decent pay, how to nurture them into the role and what is good and top practice in the field, with an eye for developing top quality workers of hand and brain.

    A number of opportunities were available to have PGRs help sculpt modules in the HASS Faculty, for example, but these were not taken up, yet people offered and I was among them and possessed of much experience, for example, as well as fresh new ideas. Coupled with the reality of vast underpay and, ultimately, a lack of appreciation for hard efforts and endeavours proffered, my experience has finally turned sour here. I enjoyed and took pride in contributing, but then once it was all over, how was that effort seen by staff? No feedback was offered, no words of thanks extended, no recognition for much sacrifice made for the sake of the prestige and name of Newcastle University. And its rigorous high standards that I wanted to put in place and hold up without fail, yet always with flexibility and compassion to those students who had tried hard yet were close to or on the verge of falling short or even to those who did fall short, as they would need much input and help, as well, for their re-take or what have you. I had felt valued until this year, more or less, yet as the hours stacked up and the work was left, de facto, unpaid, not only that, but the lack of input and feedback at what for me was near the end was palpable.

    I began to feel or suspect that I may not have been all that deeply valued all along, merely used for my skills, which had, I began to doubt, possibly even been cleverly extracted from me, with, in a certain sense, my life's blood having been sucked from me, as if, in terms of the systemic practices here, by a monstrous and formally factory-like, yet substantially pseudo-academic, vampire! In the dream-world, a vampire perchance, but then, once translated into the real world of the current system's quasi-demonology, I awoke to find: it was Newcastle University!

    'Chto delat?' you ask? What is to be done, indeed! Cut the gap radically that separates differing pay structures and pay all rates to PGRs at 40 pounds per hour or above. Training will be crucial to effecting this shift and allowing even more rigorous standards to prevail, which, over time, they will. Let well-trained PGRs with much experience and know-how get involved in sculpting modules across the faculty and to have inputs all over, while working with lecturing staff, albeit giving the PGRs independent say in feedback on modules. This will enhance dynamism and breed much higher levels of incentive and professional (as well as collegial and co-operative) attainment, tapping the know-how and energy of the up and coming PGR (but the same maybe extended to other levels, too, which will increase and improve educational democracy, too; academia should not be, nor need it be, about the sergeant major up the front dispensing unvarnished truths from on high and in the best teaching scenarios and there is much of this, this is not the case, but let us improve that best practice of critical thinking and engagement).

    Formalise mentoring by the experienced of the inexperienced who need of course to be brought on. Have structures in place to train and create cadres of experts in training and developing and mentoring the inexperienced and talented early career researchers (e.g. the PGR and others). Then, increasingly, Newcastle PGRs will be renowned in the UK for exceptionally high quality lecturers/teachers, etc who will have been rigorously trained and developed in the arts of teaching, marking, mentoring, and even, and they should be offered such, more lecturing opportunities - that all should be able to feed back on: with constructive feedback at a premium, naturally, as well as fostered by a flexible, zetetic and democratic teaching practice, not top-down dogmatisms. These are just some ideas, but there are far more accessible from workers and PGRs like me and those unlike me, too. Yet, for sure and especially in my case, there is far more expertise in my own repertoire than the University has deemed to give me credit for. It is frankly a waste of human ability and 'capital' in general that troubles me and it is not just mine.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    Great people appalling management

    Technician (Former Employee) Newcastle upon Tyne, England (UK)

    ProsSome good people left but many have been politiced out of the door. Good location.

    ConsSadly has been taken over by a combination of the Peter principle, the Dilbert principle and the Dunning Kreuger effect. This is now so firmly entrenched that the only way to become part of the next generation of mangement is on the coattails of the current generation.

    Advice to Senior ManagementResign en masse.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    School of Mechanical Engineering

    Research Assistant (Current Employee) Newcastle upon Tyne, England (UK)

    ProsGood team spirit. Freedom to do research at own pace (on day to day basis). Good laboratory facilities. Nice lifestyle on campus and good group of colleagues. Newcastle is a good city to live as well. Training and travel opportunities as University is very active in the international research network.

    ConsA little weary environment and equipment. Compensation could always be better, especially as good flats are expensive.

    Advice to Senior ManagementNone

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    Okay but the process of department is slow.

    Research Assistant (Former Employee) Newcastle upon Tyne, England (UK)

    ProsSupervisors are helpful on supporting me in research projects. The working environment is nice.

    ConsNot so effective and efficient on working, the process of staff card registration is very slow.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    University of Newcastle (UK) HR Adviser responded to this review

    May 6, 2014

    Hi

    Could you clarify 'the process of department is slow'. It would be good to find out if there's anything we can do to improve the process.

    thanks
    • Culture & Values
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    Excellent employer with great benefits

    Professional Support Services (Current Employee) Newcastle upon Tyne, England (UK)

    ProsI love working here. It's right in the City Centre so it's easy to get to by bus, metro or train. The holidays are generous with a closure period over Christmas and New Year. The family friendly leave is also good and I feel I have a good work life balance. Everyone is really friendly.

    ConsCar parking isn't great in the City Centre

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    It was very rewarding

    Research Visitor (Former Employee) Newcastle upon Tyne, England (UK)

    ProsYou are given all the tools you need to develop your job. Everyone believes in you and all the colleagues are very friendly.

    ConsThe weather. Apart from that, there are not many Cons. They care about you and you feel you are contributing to something. Everyone as the same aim.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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