Covid-proof action plan to tackle work pressure

Wageningen teachers’ pleasure in their work has declined again.
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WUR has updated its set of measures for tackling the excessive work pressure. This was prompted by the coronavirus crisis plus a request by the ministry of Social Affairs and Employment to draw up an action plan. The WOinActie campaign group had asked for this as it had found university lecturers are systematically working overtime.


In the past few years, the Executive Board has given the extra income from growing student numbers to the chair groups to let them hire more teachers. These investments appeared to have led to a reduction in the work pressure among teaching staff at WUR at the start of 2020, but the coronavirus threw a spanner in the works.

Pleasure in your work

In the action plan, Arnold Bregt notes that Wageningen teachers’ pleasure in their work has declined in the past year. They don’t feel so safe on campus because of the coronavirus. They also feel some of their autonomy has gone with the constraints of online teaching and limited teaching on campus. Thirdly, they feel the education they are delivering is not up to scratch, as judged by the scores students give and their own quality standards.


WUR has taken a number of measures to reduce work pressure, such as chair massages and courses on ‘dealing with stress’ to increase teachers’ resilience and efficiency. But WOinActie and many lecturers find this Vital@work programme an insult as it treats work pressure and stress as an individual problem and not a systemic issue. According to these academics, only investment in additional teachers and educational support will make a difference.


The Executive Board is now considering more measures specifically to reduce the workload. Earlier this autumn, the board allocated millions more euros to the chair groups for extra teachers. Now each chair group will also receive 3000 euros to pay for an extra student assistant. Furthermore, WUR wants to reduce the administrative burden for lecturers, in line with the advice given by WOinActie. The WUR Council will discuss the Work Pressure Action Plan in January.   

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