Black academics ‘paid £7K less’ than white colleagues on average

Hesa data analysed by UCU also show how few black and other ethnic minority scholars are in senior positions

October 15, 2019
Racial pay gap
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Black and minority ethnic academic staff in the UK earn 9 per cent less than white scholars, according to a new data analysis.

The analysis of salary data by the University and College Union shows that the pay gap is largest for black academics, who earned £7,000 less than white colleagues on average in 2017-18, a 14 per cent difference.

For Asian academics, the pay gap with white colleagues is similar to all BME staff at 9 per cent, although Asian professors and senior academics earn more than their white counterparts on average. 

As well as the data on pay, the UCU figures, which come from an analysis of Higher Education Statistics Agency data, also show how BME staff are less likely to hold senior roles.

For instance, just one in every 33 black academics is a professor compared with one in nine white academics. Overall, 84 per cent of academic staff are white, but 93 per cent of professors are white, as are 91 per cent of academic-related managers, according to the UCU.

Part of the reason for the gaps in average pay between BME academics and white members of staff may be caused by the fact that there are relatively fewer ethnic minorities in senior positions.

However, an analysis by the University and Colleges Employers Association last year that compared pay for academics who had similar age, experience and institutional background still found a pay gap between black and white academics of 13.3 per cent for men and 11.9 per cent for women.

The UCU analysis comes amid a ballot for strike action over pay and conditions following a national claim from the union that includes a call for action over closing gender and ethnic pay gaps.

General secretary Jo Grady said the figures in its analysis “lift the lid on the extent of the race pay gaps in universities and the lack of representation of BME staff at the top level”.

“It is quite shocking that we are having to ballot our members to get universities to start seriously addressing the issue of unequal pay and progression in higher education,” she said.

“It is going to take systematic change and some difficult conversations if we are going to make any headway. Universities need to work with us to address the issue and recognise that they will need to transform their practices to implement real change for BME staff.”

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