Sep 26, 2022

“Voices of Pandemia”-Testing positive during ‘pandemia’: The personal and professional costs of university staff contracting COVID-19


Photo by Nathan Dumlao via UnSplash

This research project funded by the Worldwide Universities Network intends to capture and analyse the experiential perspectives of university staff from around the world. It draws together a multi-disciplinary team of senior academic researchers working in nine country contexts (Australia, Canada, Ghana, Ireland, The Netherlands, South Africa, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and across the fields of sociology, psychology, health and illness, and policy studies.

It applies a ‘whole-community’ approach to the articulation of how institutional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the professional and personal lives of those working in universities internationally. As such, the research consists of consultation with individuals across a career hierarchy working in a variety of institutional contexts and across nine country settings (matched to the researchers) across six discrete categories:

  • Academics of Colour
  • Female Academics
  • Academic Leaders
  • Early Career Academics including Doctoral Researchers
    Academics with Disabilities
  • Non-Academics (those working in professional services/administrative/support roles within universities)

Through a conceptual lens of ‘pandemia’ (Watermeyer et al. 2021), the research will consider the challenges of ‘long-COVID’ as a clinical condition producing potentially manifold impacts on those affected by it.

Equal representation of research participants by gender, ethnicity and disability, will be ensured – in large part due to the focus within the sample of individuals with protected characteristics. Equal representation will also be sought by contract type, for instance open-ended or fixed-term employment, and institutional affiliation, for instance research intensive or teaching focused university, so as to identify if/how variations of employment (in)security and institutional type, influence and attenuate or accentuate experiences of long-COVID.

Participation will occur via interview with a member of the research team (local to the country setting) who will ask participants to describe their experience of how long-COVID has impacted their professional lives. Country contributors will be responsible for interviewing in each of their country settings. Interviews will be synthesized into country level chapters, in which experiences of long-COVID will be discussed according to representation by the six categories.

Chapters will be compiled into an open access book, Voices from Pandemia. There are other potential academic outputs that might follow, but the book will be the major contribution. The project team also anticipates wider public dissemination of findings through contributions to mainstream and social media outlets and an academic trade press, in addition to policy level dissemination via engagement of higher education funders, regulators and policy personnel.