University of the West of England
3.5 of 5 8 reviews
www.uwe.ac.uk Bristol, United Kingdom 5000+ Employees

University of the West of England Reviews

Updated Jun 29, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.5 8 reviews

                             

67% Approve of the CEO

University of the West of England Chancellor Sir Ian Carruthers

Sir Ian Carruthers

(3 ratings)

57% of employees recommend this company to a friend
8 Employee Reviews
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    PAL leader at UWE

    PAL Leader (Former Employee)
    Bristol, England (UK)

    Prosbest reason to chose to become a PAL leader is you could get a extra 15 in your diploma

    Conscons are you have to prepare a plan sheet for every lesson so you would be spending an extra 30mins to prepare a plan then after the lesson you need to review your lesson that's another 30mins wasted, and you are only paid £7.5 an hour and you lose £1.5 to tax but you might claim that back later year.

    Advice to Senior ManagementI think they should increase the hour rate of the PAL leaders and less paper work.

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

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    Mixed Feelings: Being a Post-Doc at UWE

    Postdoctoral Research Associate/Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Current Employee)
    Bristol, England (UK)

    ProsGood tolerance of things like flexitime, working from home, balancing life and work and children-related flexitime and time out from work. Welcoming to older people (2nd career students and so on), women, muslims, all sexualities and so on. Senior management seems to desire inclusivity (like Athena Swan and so on), but there are some issues (see cons).

    There is also a level of ruthlessness in the senior management approach to courses and areas to invest in, which, although not everyone likes this, suggests that the university is unlikely to run out of money. Although, like all universities, money is spent on things like pretty buildings.

    There is a genuine engagement with local businesses and applied research, although the focus on small to medium enterprises can exclude efforts to engage with large and international enterprises. There is engagement with the local high school students through things like careers fairs. There is a engagement with the public through things like festivals, talks and tours.

    Lots of opportunity to move around and learn new research skills (largely because they don't care about research or police it beyond the health and safety level). Lots of personal development, continuing professional development, teaching courses available. Little policing of hours spent at UWE, so you can work from home, or take flexitime easily.

    Almost open and fair approach to researcher promotion. It is possible to fill in a form explaining why you deserve a promotion, get it considered by the department/faculty and get feedback as to why you didn't get it, which is helpful (and was a change that took place whilst I was there, which does show a commitment to improvement). However, you need a business case for promotion, which does mean that the promotions go to those who are best at getting funding, not necessarily those who are best as their job (this is the same at every uni, I think).

    H.R. and finance departments are a little too keen on forms, a little anal about the filling in of them (if you have bad handwriting, don't even bother trying to do them by hand) and the processes change too often, but the form overhead is well managed compared to most universities. The finance team will sort out grant application finances for you and the bidding support people are good at their jobs.

    Keen on the filing of patents, the patent agreement is generous to researchers and they are interested in applying research and licensing patents to companies. But, the university currently has only a part time technology transfer officer and they really need 2 full time ones, and they are too keen to licenses to small, local SMEs rather than engaging with large, multinational corporations and patent opportunities fall through the gaps and, in one case, it took a year to file a patent and some of the work was accidentally published before filing.

    The uni-run bus service has vastly improved and is usable for getting to and from work.

    The university senior management does seem genuinely engaged in improving things.

    ConsIf you don't fit in, you will be told to not come back! There is a huge difference in this across the faculties, so it depends where you end up. Some faculties are not very tolerant of differences, despite a huge effort to be inclusive from the top levels of management and some level of success in inclusivity. There is some institutional bullying at the lower levels in some departments. Anyone with any mental health issues is likely to have difficulties, some departments are not very supportive. Some first-line bosses block their post-doc's attempts to 'get-out-from-under' and have an independent research career.

    Generally, the university is uninterested in research success, again, the top levels of management encourage it, but lower levels do not recognise or reward it. There are wasted opportunities to pursue lucrative research ventures with external bodies, due to lack of interest at the departmental level. There are some oddities where great researchers with very high profiles externally do not get internal recognition -- this goes to internal researchers skilled at politics and cronyism, even if they have a low external profile. Similarly, external impact is often overlooked as well. There is also an over-focus on the professor as compared to the post-doc. The institutional view seems to be that the professor does all the intellectual work of a project and the post-doc is just a pair of hands (i.e. they act like a research assistant or research technician), there is no understanding that research associates (which I define as someone who has their PhD), research fellows and senior research fellows do a vast amount of intellectual work and contribute independent ideas. Thus, any research success that is recognised goes to the professors. It is also difficult to get support for external bidding at the RA, RF and SRF level, as a professor must be put on the grant and work put in to develop grants by the lower levels is ignored. This results in the university losing promising early and middle career researchers because they are not interested in retaining those people and their skills. Therefore, there is a chance that the university will end up top-heavy, with many highly paid university lecturers (who may then retire) and no qualified early or middle career researchers to take their place or expand the research and bidding potential of university. This is highly wasteful as the university has put in the time to train these people (often from their PhD's) and then loses them to other institutions once the researchers are efficient at producing research.

    No clear level of direction of research in some faculties. Some institutions, such as the BRL, have a very clear direction and leadership, some departments and faculties lack leadership and change their research focus every year! This is compounded by the highly irritating habit of departmental and faculty level management renaming the departments and research groups on an almost yearly basis. I think they rename it to indicate a change of direction instead of implementing proper leadership. The names picked tend to be rather long and unwieldy (and not particularly descriptive of what the department does), and take up a large amount of space on research papers (quite irritating if you submit research papers to somewhere that strictly limits page length). It does not look good externally to have names so vague as to mean nothing, and makes it hard to cultivate an external reputation. The solution seems to be publishing papers and maintaining websites in the names of groups/departments/research centres that do not actually exist in the university structure any more. Personally, despite not liking renaming things, I would love it if the university could rename itself to the Technical University of Bristol, or something, as outside the UK there is no stigma attached to the word 'Polytechnic', Bristol has a good reputation globally as a technical city and it would make it easier to build up a good reputation with colleagues at Technical Universities of the US, the Technichsche Universitat of Germany and the Polytechnica's of Italy.

    There is too much pointless competition between departments, faculties and research institutions. For example, there are two different research organisations focussed on biosensors/biosensing, one in one faculty focussed on biosensors, one in another focussed on biosensing, there is limited collaboration (although there is some) and unnecessary competition between these two. There are initiatives to increase cross-disciplinary work but only within a faculty and not across it, despite obvious routes for cross-faculty collaboration, due to the slightly odd layout of departments within faculties (the biology departments are with the humanities in a different faculty to computer science, and mathematics is put in with engineering and design, separate from computer science). This leads to wasted resources, with similar lab facilities empty within one faculty and crowded in another and wasted opportunities to bring in money from external companies where cross-faculty collaboration would lead to a better service.

    Cronyism. Jobs do not go to the best qualified candidate. There is an effort to appear fair, but it is not very convincing. I saw one job get awarded to an internal candidate in what was supposed to be a fair and open competition where we were invited to attend job presentations of the candidates. However, in this case there were only 2 candidates short-listed, the external dropped out, the job was de facto awarded to the internal candidate and this was presented as a fair process. The best way to get ahead is to suck up to middle management and attempt to procure yourself a defender (or several) at the departmental and faculty level. With such a defender, you can easily win internal funding competitions and promotions, without one, you might as well give up on any internal funding competitions and apply for external money. Putting time and effort into internal PR and propaganda is worthwhile as well. But be careful, overdoing the propaganda and seeming to over-succeed will alienate your co-workers and defenders. These issues take place at other universities, but because UWE is so internally focussed (almost solipsistic in its approach to research reward!) it is extra bad here.

    In some departments there is a huge morale problem at the post-doc level. This is due to lack of leadership, bad management and cronyism, but also to do with the over-focus on the teaching staff as compared to research staff (this is something the university has worked to address, although more work is needed). However, the teaching staff are demoralised as well, as the teaching load is very heavy and they are required to produce 4 high impact publications every four years as well. The obvious solution of cultivating and promoting research-focussed post-docs to 'carry-the-load' of REF success and to collaborate with the primarily teaching staff to give them high impact research has not been attempted. In fact, due to the poor management of the researchers, there is a distrust between the primarily teaching and primarily research faculty which makes such collaboration unlikely to emerge.

    Financial reward is random. If you start fresh from a PhD you may be appointed at either a RA(ssociate) or RF level, it seems to be random, and is unfair and divisive. If you start at RA, you will need to swing a promotion to RF to get the same reward as one of your colleagues, this will take at least a year and a half as you can only try once every 6 months, you can't do it during your probation and are unlikely to get it first time. So, in an interview, try and get RF level and be polite and don't tell your colleagues! There is a pay increase every year (as mandated by the Research Councils), this depends to time spent at UWE and is not related to the outcome of your personal development review, so no amount of success will allow you to progress faster. There are cases of RA's with the same qualifications outperforming higher paid RF's. The management seem to believe this is a fair system.

    There is no language school, so faculty can't get cheap evening classes in foreign languages. The library lacks subscriptions to some necessary journals. You can get them via the British library and every researcher has access to this service, but it adds to the time taken to get the appropriate literature.

    Advice to Senior ManagementFully investigate the actual day-to-day practises of management at the departmental and faculty level, there are some nasty surprises awaiting. I suspect the lack of leadership at the departmental and faculty level is directly related to the attempt to chase out anyone who doesn't fit in or can't be bullied into fitting in, as to fit in is to acquiesce and if everyone is culturally-trained to acquiesce you will not have any good leaders. Look at what skills and potential you are losing at the early and middle career level.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    The level of incompetency and failure when it comes to supporting staff is astounding

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsThe flexi-time scheme works well (providing you have a fair manager who will allow you to take back the time you've accrued.)

    ConsI honestly don't know where to begin but just for starters...
    * The fact many staff took a pay cut while the VC's salary and benefits went through the roof
    * The fact HR do not react appropriately when a member of staff is being bullied by a senior member of staff
    * The fact staff are being expected to do more and more with fewer resources.

    Advice to Senior ManagementPlease listen to your staff and their concerns, especially around workload and stress because if no action is taken, you could well end up with your staff having to take sick leave.

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

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    Good employer, location fine if you don't need to use the M5

    Student Counsellor (Former Employee)
    Bristol, England (UK)

    ProsSupportive staff development programme and very helpful re employee absence due to health difficulties

    ConsGetting there! (if you live outside Bristol). Traffic delays can make timekeeping difficult if you're not on flexi

    Advice to Senior ManagementMore flexi-time working to allow 'outsiders' to build in traffic delay impact

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    Unstable and uncomfortable

    Lecturer (Former Employee)

    ProsThere is some capacity to get on if you have links to commercially-"relevant" projects

    ConsConstant change makes work both unstable and slow. The shifting of institutional structures makes it disorienting and makes simple tasks much more difficult to undertake as a result of that difficulty in knowing who does what and where things are. There is also a tendency to appoint "hard managers" who are also sometimes left in the dark, or at least do not pass on clear information.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTrust you staff and actually involve them in decision-making. Try to account for the true costs of change - for example of the accumulated time of staff having to travel between campuses, the time taken to find out which member of staff does what role and so on. It seems reasonable to suggest, given we're told everything we do has to be accounted for. Remember that the value of a "brand" consists in the overall organisation - the lack of morale in the staff body must be respected as part of the brand.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Good overall experience

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsGood size campus; decent facilities

    ConsSome lecturing is hard to follow.

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    it was fantastic

    Intern (Former Employee)
    Bristol, England (UK)

    Pros20 hours per week, high salary, and beside home.

    Consnot in my home country

    Advice to Senior Managementinclude more number of interns each year.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    Happy to have graduated from UWE and worked there.

    Student Ambassador (Former Employee)
    Bristol, England (UK)

    ProsLarge, lots of facilities and the uni has its many fingers in many different pies. Always spending lots of money on the events I have worked for them as an ambassador. This was a highly enjoyable job, solely down to my colleagues and the department I worked for.

    ConsUWE still bangs on proudly whenever it can, hoisting its banner and letting everyone know it's there.
    Paycheque was only monthly, so often waited for a long time for money.

    Advice to Senior ManagementFortnightly pay cheques.

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

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at University of the West of England reviews and ratings — including employee satisfaction and approval rating for University of the West of England CEO Sir Ian Carruthers. All 8 reviews posted anonymously by University of the West of England employees.