Level of Perceived Stress among Lectures in Nigerian Universities

Article excerpt

The purpose of the study was to provide empirical evidence on the level of stress among lecturers in Nigerian universities. On the whole eight universities were used for the study. A sample of 228 (123 male and 105 female) lecturers was selected according to the variables of age, sex, marital status, experience, domicile, areas of specialization, and administrative responsibilities. The Stress Research Questionnaire developed by the researchers was used to collect data on the level of stress in relation to the variables. The finding revealed that the level of stress among academics is significantly high. Recommendations were made for policy options to reduce stress in Nigerian universities.

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Stress has become a popular concept for explaining a wide range of behaviours that appear to defy explanation. Indeed it has become fashionable in the Nigerian society to attribute erratic or unexplainable behaviour of people to the fact that they are under stress.

Stress is a process in which environmental events or forces threaten the well being of an individual in the society. Stress is a disruption of the emotional stability of the individual that induces a state of disorganization in personality and behaviour (Nweze, 1984). It is a biological phenomenon that is experienced by all persons regardless of their socio-economic status, occupation or age (Wiley, 2000). Egor (2000) viewed stress as the way the individual responds to conditions that scare, threaten, anger, bewilder or excite them. McGrath (1976) defines stress generally as a dynamic condition in which an individual is confronted with an opportunity, constraints, or demand on being, having and doing what he or she desires.

Evidently, in Nigeria there are life threatening, harmful and challenging situations, which are stressful to peoples' existence and well-being. Some of these include economic instability, driving on poorly maintained roads, religious intolerance and insecurity. The professional and personal concerns that seem to produce stress among university teachers in Nigeria include poor salaries, the status of the profession and the feeling of inadequacy as a lecturer.

Contemporary Nigerian universities have not been immuned from emerging forces of stress in the country. Despite the nation's declaration of the importance of university education in national development and the role it plays in satisfying manpower needs, there is growing evidence that there are really no universities private, states or federal that will genuinely claim to enjoy the basic facilities for teaching, learning and research. Today virtually all necessary facilities and resources, except students, are in acute short supply (Nwadiani and Ofoegbu, 2001). These could expose lecturers to such levels of stress that could force them to deviate from normal functioning.

Stress inducing factors in universities include lack of instructional resources, poor interpersonal relationship among staff (academic and non-academic) and between students and the administration, waves of student campus militancy and unmanageable student population. For example, during the 1995/1996, 2000/2001 and 2002/2003 academic sessions the student population of the University of Benin was 16281, 20364, and 24,914 respectively (University of Benin, 2003). An important related factor is government intervention in university governance. Efforts by the academicians to make the universities more responsive to the industrial and economic needs of the country have been viewed as a major attack on the political elites and on intellectuals who "play politics" with the educational policies of the country; policies which according to Nwagwu (2002) should be guarded by academic considerations. Consequently some lecturers in contemporary Nigeria are constantly faced with a complex array of stress inducing factors while meeting the daily learning and behavioural needs of students. …