International Women's Day - universities' pay gaps highlighted

Institutions are criticised in UCU report for allowing 'shameful levels of pay inequality' to persist

March 8, 2016
gender pay gap
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Several universities have been "named and shamed" by the University and College Union for having the largest gender pay gaps in higher education

The University of Leicester has the biggest pay gap for academic staff for any UK university, once small and specialist institutions are excluded, with women earning £9,793 less than men on average, according to the UCU report, titled Holding Down Women’s Pay, published on 8 January, to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Overall, the gender pay gap among academic staff in higher education was £6,103, says the analysis of pay data for the 2013-14 academic year.

In a statement, Leicester said that it “aims to ensure that staff are treated solely on the basis of their merits and abilities” and had recently extended its Athena SWAN scheme for improving employment conditions for women to all university departments.

Pay differences had arisen owing to “changes in responsibility, promotion, length of time in post, distinctions, productivity and other non-discriminatory factors”, it added.

A recent analysis by Leicester showed the average salaries for full-time female staff are “not significantly different” to those paid to men, with difference reflecting “annual progression through the salary scale from time of recruitment or promotion”.

The institution with the largest gender pay gap for professors was City University London where female professors earned an average £15,992 less than their male colleagues – a pay gap of 16.4 per cent, the UCU report says.

A similar analysis conducted by Times Higher Education in April 2015 on 2013-14 data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency also found City to have one of the highest gender pay gaps in the sector, with an 18.4 per cent difference between academic staff – a difference of £12,222.

At the time, City said that it had introduced a new scheme to “make it easier to identify and control any gender anomalies in pay at professorial level” and a further equal pay review would take place soon.

Commenting on the latest analysis, Sally Hunt, the UCU’s general secretary, said that universities “should not have allowed such shameful levels of pay inequality to persist”.

“It’s nearly 50 years since the Equal Pay Act came into force and they’re still flying in the face of it,” said Ms Hunt, who said she wanted sector leaders to make a “firm commitment” to close the gender pay gap and “make equal pay at every college and university a reality”.

The new report comes after unions and employers in higher education have been involved in a joint working group to address the issue of gender pay inequality.

In November, the group’s chair Nick Petford, vice-chancellor of the University of Northampton, said that the issue remained “at the top of institutional agendas” and “real progress” had been made tackling the gender pay gap.

A representative for the Universities and Colleges Employers Association said that it was  “disappointing” that the UCU’s report did not reference its ongoing joint work in this area with unions as it demonstrated “the shared commitment” to tackle the issue.

The latest UCU analysis, based on figures used for its new online tool, Rate for the job, which allows members to make comparisons between pay rates at colleges and universities, also highlights the gender pay gaps for professional and support staff in higher education, and for teaching staff in further education.

A “combined gender pay ranking” has also been created using measures of the gender pay gap.

St George’s, University of London is the worst performer on this ranking. The south London medical school told THE last year that it “had made considerable progress in appointing more female professorial staff”, but these new appointees will “generally start at the lower end of the pay scale”, thereby leading to a greater disparity at professorial level.

UCU ranking of UK universities by gender pay gap for all academic staff

Ranking Institution All academics female salary (£) All academics male salary (£) Pay gap  - £ difference between male and female salary Pay gap  - Female salary as % of male salary
1 University of the Highlands and Islands 32,484 51,121 18,637 63.50%
2 University of London (Institutes and activities) 46,532 65,641 19,109 70.90%
3 The University of Wales (central functions) 39,237 54,398 15,161 72.10%
4 Royal Agricultural University 38,332 51,286 12,954 74.70%
5 The University of Leicester 36,085 45,878 9,793 78.70%
6 London School of Economics and Political Science 45,493 57,541 12,048 79.10%
7 Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine 42,201 53,317 11,116 79.20%
8 Courtauld Institute of Art 49,134 61,663 12,529 79.70%
9 The University of Buckingham 41,193 51,223 10,030 80.40%
10 Liverpool Hope University 39,577 49,136 9,559 80.50%
11 The University of Warwick 47,527 58,820 11,293 80.80%
12 The Institute of Cancer Research 39,361 48,568 9,207 81.00%
13 London Business School 153,525 188,692 35,167 81.40%
14 St George's Hospital Medical School 47,485 58,350 10,865 81.40%
15 The University of Cambridge 39,400 48,323 8,923 81.50%
16 The University of Aberdeen 43,823 53,737 9,914 81.60%
17 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 46,989 57,468 10,479 81.80%
18 King's College London 44,130 53,833 9,703 82.00%
19 Cardiff University 43,527 52,985 9,458 82.10%
20 The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts 34,009 41,354 7,345 82.20%
21 Bangor University 38,497 46,764 8,267 82.30%
22 The University of Glasgow 43,094 52,338 9,244 82.30%
23 The University of York 43,515 52,705 9,190 82.60%
24 Newcastle University 40,490 48,992 8,502 82.60%
25 The University of Bath 40,692 49,177 8,485 82.70%
26 University of Nottingham 42,646 51,490 8,844 82.80%
27 Swansea University 41,450 49,997 8,547 82.90%
28 The University of St Andrews 42,404 51,103 8,699 83.00%
29 Keele University 49,374 59,389 10,015 83.10%
30 The University of Exeter 41,820 50,181 8,361 83.30%

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