Bullying at the University of Newcastle (Australia)

We are working to highlight and stop academic workplace bullying at the University of Newcastle, Australia. We are a group of staff and students who have been bullied for speaking out about misconduct.

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This will help us gather as much information as possible so that we can put an end to this bullying with its’ decades-long history.

“Systemic bullying, hazing and abuse generally are identified with poor, weak or toxic organizational cultures. Cultures that are toxic have stated ethical values that are espoused but not employed, and other non-ethical values which are operational, dominant, but unstated.

Such cultures thrive when good people are silent, silenced, or pushed out; when bad apples are vocal, retained, promoted, and empowered; and when the neutral majority remain silent in order to survive. Those who are most successful in such a toxic culture are those who have adapted to it, or adopted it as their own”. (McKay, Arnold, Fratzl & Thomas, 2008)

Monday, February 11, 2013

"When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn"

Professor John Biggs' chapter demonstrates clearly how the history of cover-up and collusion at the  University of Newcastle has become its established way of operating.  Here is a sample of relevant quotes (emphasis added).

“The University of Newcastle faced many difficulties, and instead of admitting there were problems and endeavouring to correct them, generated poor public relations by appearing to refuse to admit that any problems existed, or that if they did, it was because of recalcitrant and difficult individuals outside — never inside — the Administration.”
“Two notorious cases, the Spautz Case and the Bayley-Jones Case, wasted millions of dollars in legal fees and settlements, both in and out of court, not to mention the incredible waste of man hours, stress and pain, for over a decade.”
The damage caused by the University’s handling of just the Spautz and Bayley-Jones cases was colossal: to the people concerned, to the University’s own national and international reputation, to its finances, to staff morale and division amongst staff, to time-wasting, to the general functioning of the University as an educational institution. One could be forgiven for thinking that the Administration of the University of Newcastle was unable to get anything right, no matter who was Vice-Chancellor.”
A culture of lying and cover-up had become endemic, resulting in 2003 in the University being investigated by the St. James Ethics Committee, over yet another plagiarism case.”
“The life of the University went on as usual, with Spautz, Bayley-Jones, the Rose incident (whereby a newly appointed professor left within weeks claiming he had been misled), the Academic Plan (which disadvantaged selected departments without prior consultation), the Rigged Failure Rates (another face-saving case where the University breached its own examination regulations) and other items on David Clark’s list to keep us amused.”
“I called an emergency meeting of Faculty Board. We passed two sets of resolutions for Senate to endorse: (1) expressing grave concern at the way the matter had been handled, especially the appalling lack of consultation, (2) requesting the proposals be withdrawn and alternatives explored.
Senate agreed with both resolutions by a large margin. The VC’s wrist was slapped for his nonconsultative modus operandi, and Council was asked to scrap the plan and go back to the drawing boards.”

“… here we’re looking at a whole string of things, and most follow the same pattern: a problem, a long period of indecision, then a sudden decision made by one or a few select senior administrators, with minimal consultation (least of all with those most affected), and little or no published rationale or case made. Such a style is the antithesis of everything a university is supposed to stand for. The essence of academic work is to arrive at the best approximation to truth or the best decision. So, you base a case on evidence and sound public argument; you invite criticism, not reject it as an impertinence.”
“… part of the tragedy is that universities must take much of the blame for this, in their refusal to listen to whistleblowers, and so to clean up their act.”
How is it possible that the University continues to act in the same way? - on-going cover-up and collusion rather than dealing with issues constructively.


  1. My personal experience tells me that the University of Newcastle has thrived on punishing the brightest and most decent people by bullying them out.

    Prof. Biggs' revelations are so true about that place.

  2. They will not learn because learning means they would lose their power to bully those better than themselves so as to advance their own careers and agendas.

    Just look at the history of the institution and it's what's actually happened. Otherwise why are there so many ethical people bullied out of the place and it is still happening there?