A laggard. Swansea University

April 7, 2000

...this is the tiny proportion of ethnic minority and female professors employed in Britain's universities. Helen Hague reports on how the statistics published today could help in the battle against inequality in higher education.

A glance at the statistics shows that the University of Wales, Swansea, is way down the league table in terms of female and ethnic minority professors. The principality's universities generally trail their English and Scottish counterparts on measures of equality.

At Swansea there are no black British professors, and just 0.7 per cent of senior lecturers are from an ethnic minority group.

According to the university, it has a "significant number" of academics from overseas in other senior posts, who do not show up in the statistics.

Swansea falls below the Welsh average of 7.7 per cent of female professors, with women making up 7.1 per cent of the professoriat: 12.5 per cent of senior lecturers are women, compared with a 21.9 per cent national average and a 14.5 per cent average in Wales.

Jenny Levin came from the ethnically diverse South Bank University, where nearly one-third of professors are female, to co-found Swansea's law department in the early 1990s. "People are trying here, but it is a small city in a rural area. It is not cosmopolitan. I wish I'd been able to appoint more women to academic jobs at senior levels , but despite advertising, the applications didn't arrive."

One high-profile female professor at Swansea is Welsh Woman of the Year, metallurgy professor Valerie Randall. She believes the concept of the "glass ceiling" is not constructive. Some women "may not have I all the attributes necessary to support a top post". And some, she adds, may choose not to develop them.

David Eastwood, pro vice-chancellor, says that no one is allowed to chair an appointments committee at Swansea who has not had equal opportunities training, and the university has an active equal opportunities forum.

Bristol professor Tariq Modood, who wrote an influential report on target-setting and monitoring to boost the pro- file of ethnic minority academics, has been invited to give a lecture at Swansea next month.

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