Equal Pay Day 2023: see the gender pay gap at your university

Sector-wide pay gap stands at 14.2 per cent, but it is higher than 30 per cent at some institutions

November 22, 2023
Source: iStock

The gender pay gap among UK higher education has not improved in the last year, figures suggest, with women in the sector effectively working for free for months.

On Equal Pay Day, Times Higher Education has analysed data to reveal which institutions have the largest differences in pay between women and men.

The Fawcett Society has calculated that women in all industries across the UK earn a mean average of 10.7 per cent less than men in 2023, and will stop earning relative to men from 22 November this year.

Recent data from Advance HE shows that the average gender pay gap in higher education in 2022-23 was 14.2 per cent.

Its reports show that the median higher education salary – used to avoid outliers – was £37,467 for the women and £40,928 for men last year.

This gap of 8.5 per cent was unchanged from the year before, and was much higher in Scotland and Wales, at 13.7 per cent.

The median pay gap was 9.1 per cent for UK academic staff, and 7.2 per cent for professors. Meanwhile, the gap was 5.7 per cent for professional and support staff.

Analysis of government records by THE reveals that the median gender pay gap was as high as 40.4 per cent at Leeds Conservatoire.

This was followed by Harper Adams University (32.9 per cent) and specialist health sciences institution AECC University College (29.4 per cent).

NameEmployeesMedian pay gap 2023Median pay gap 2022

All UK employers with at least 250 staff must report the gender pay gap within their organisations to the government, with some colleges from the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge appearing separately.

THE’s analysis includes all British employers classed as providing first degree-level higher education in 2022-23, and excludes school trusts and further education colleges.

Of the almost 150 institutions with records for the last two years, the gap shrank in 46 per cent of them, increased in 42 per cent and saw no change in the remaining 12 per cent.

Leeds Conservatoire said it was aware of the data and was actively working to improve the situation for staff.

A spokesperson from AECC University College said that, in such a small institution, a minority of staff could lead to a larger percentage variance.

Nevertheless, it said it had reduced its median gender pay gap by 10 percentage points year-on-year and had implemented a number of initiatives to further address this imbalance.

Harriet Harman, chair of the Fawcett Society, said the gender pay gap across all sectors was closing far too slowly, with women over 40 set to suffer from it until retirement.

“This is unfair and unjust, and it hurts everyone,” she said.

“A thriving economy relies on the full participation of women, and we are currently locking women out of work they are qualified for and capable of doing.”


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Reader's comments (1)

These figures are indicative of an issue but meaningless without any analysis into the causality. Statistically you could prove many types of pay inequality based on other factors, race, religion and even height,but when viewed alone they do not tell you the full picture. e.g. A male and female lecturer doing an identical job with identical skills, the male has been in post much longer and is at the top of grade hence statistically there is pay inequality at a point in time, but not necessarily an issue that needs to be addressed in this example. Also the high earners in the system can skew the data if they are predominantly male - there may be fewer of them but they contribute significantly more to the weighting. Having worked on an Athena Swan board I have seen the data sets but when you start to dig deeper there are all kinds of pay inequalities in the system, within gender as well as between them, within Teams, Departments and Faculties. The whole reward structure within the sector needs to be re-evaluated. Efforts to address gender pay inequality shocked me at my institution as they seemed to only want to address the issue for female senior academic staff and had no thought for the residences and catering female staff at the other end of the spectrum. Recruitment practices also need to be considered, with the nepotism and favouritism seen so often eradicated, so we do actually end up with the best person for the job. Focussing on a single type of inequality is inappropriate as the ineqaulity felt by a anybody irrespective of characteristics is no less hurtful, important or worthy of being addressed just because it does not give rise to sensationalist headlines.