A lecturer at Cardiff University who fell to his death had been struggling with an increasing workload, an inquest heard last week.
Dr Malcolm Anderson, who was a lecturer in accounting at Cardiff University’s Business School, as well as a personal tutor, fell to his death on the morning of the 19th February 2018. Coroner Andrew Barkley later recorded a verdict of suicide.
In a statement for the inquest into the death, his colleague Louis Vallis said Dr Anderson was struggling to create timetables for university within his allocated time-frame, and would often do it in his own time. Mr Vallis said Dr Anderson had “complained to management a number of times about the allocation,” but “received the same response year after year.”
Mr Vallis also said Dr Anderson had been asked to mark 418 examination papers over a 20-day period. According to WalesOnline, Dr Anderson left behind a note saying his workload had finally gotten to him. Police sources said there were emails on Dr Anderson’s work computer referring to “work expectations not being manageable.”
Dr Anderson’s wife, Diane, with whom he had three daughters, described her husband as someone who “would always give the very best to everything that he did, but was silently struggling.” She said his commute was an 120-mile round trip, and his workload meant he was unable to spend time with family.
Cardiff University, who described Dr Anderson as “an excellent teacher with the rare ability to enthuse the large numbers of students who attended his lectures,” said they would be reviewing the support available to staff.
The news led a number of academics to refer to the case of Stefan Grimm, a professor of toxicology at Imperial College London who took his own life in 2014. A posthumous email sent by Professor Grimm to staff within Imperial cited the pressure he was under to bring in more grant money, with an email from his line manager saying he was “struggling to fulfil the metrics of a Professorial post at Imperial College”, since he was unable to bring in £200,000 per annum in a programme grant.
The coroner into Professor Grimm’s case described the death as “needless.”
Imperial completed an internal review of staff policies following Professor Grimm’s death, although a College spokesperson told Felix at the time that “given the complex nature of suicide, it would be impossible to answer with certainty whether any action taken by the College could have resulted in a different outcome.”
The case comes amid increasing concern over the workload of academic and support staff in higher education institutions. Two studies, released earlier this year, highlighted what Times Higher Education described as “a crisis of overwork and poor mental health in academia.” In one study, postgraduate students were found to be more than six times more likely to experience anxiety or depression than the general population.
If you have been affected by anything in this article, please consider speaking to your personal tutor, senior tutor, ICU Advice Centre, or the Imperial Counselling Service. You can also phone the Samaritans (116 123) or London Nightline (02076310101) for confidential emotional support.