Fair representation

April 23, 2015

Recent research reported in Times Higher Education shows that the students’ union “officer class” is lacking in diversity (“The student officer class still stands too far apart”, News, 16 April). But it appears that THE’s officer class also falls short on this score. Of the 17 editorial board members listed in THE, 16 are white (one is from Iran originally), six are women, six have some form of ennoblement (Sir, Dame, Baroness) and three are based at the University of Oxford. The president of the National Union of Students (white woman) is a board member. There are four vice-chancellors, no academics below the level of professor and no one specifically representing a trade union.

Of course, THE is not an elected organisation, but one wonders to what extent its editorial board’s make-up is reflected in its coverage. As a middle-aged white man myself, I’m perhaps not best placed to answer this question. However, as a University and College Union representative, it seems to me that the opinions of leaders get a disproportionately higher level of coverage compared with staff at lower grades. Indeed, THE recently had a special feature on the challenges and responsibilities of being a vice-chancellor (“Know the score”, Features, 5 March) and last week previewed its own Leadership and Management Awards.

London Metropolitan University’s former vice-chancellor Malcolm Gillies was allotted a regular column for quite a long period, even as he was making a series of widespread cuts in our institution. How about a special feature on the challenges faced by union representatives or a weekly feature written by a different union representative?

David Hardman
London Metropolitan University UCU membership secretary and joint health and safety officer

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