Black and Asian scholars 'less likely' to have been submitted to the REF

Hefce study finds large differences in submission rates by ethnicity and gender

August 19, 2015

Black and Asian UK academics were significantly less likely to be included in the 2014 research excellence framework than their white peers, according a study that analysed the demographics of those submitted by universities.

Failure to be included in the exercise, run last year to judge research quality, could have harmed academics’ careers, with some universities threatening scholars with redundancy for not submitting.

Just 35 per cent of black UK staff were selected for inclusion, a much lower proportion than peers who are white (56 per cent), Asian (56 per cent) or Chinese (68 per cent).

Black academics’ low selection rate was mirrored in that of scholars from elsewhere in the European Union and the rest of the world. Asian-origin UK academics, although they were selected at the same rate as their white peers, were found to be underrepresented when other factors were controlled for.

The study aimed to see whether other variables, such as whether or not an academic held a PhD, their contract status, previous location and grade, could explain the differences.  

It found that black and Asian UK academics, and non-EU nationals, “had statistically significant lower selection rates even with modelling for other factors taken into account”. 

There was also a large selection discrepancy between men and women (67 versus 51 per cent), but the study, conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, concludes that this could be explained by other factors.

“When the modelling is applied the difference in the selection indices decreases, suggesting that factors other than sex may explain the selection differences between men and women,” according to the report, Selection of staff for inclusion in the REF 2014, which was released on 17 August.

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