Statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reveal that UK universities are severely lacking in ethnic diversity when it comes to hiring both academic and non-academic staff.
Out of 535 academic staff employed as “managers, directors or senior officials” in British universities in the 2018/19 academic year, only 25 identified as Asian, mixed or another ethnicity, while none were black.
The figures also showed that out of 11,860 non-academic staff employed as “managers, directors or senior officials.” only 185 of them identified as black, while 625 identified as either Asian, mixed, or another ethnicity.
Blacks, Asians and those of mixed race are also severely underrepresented in other roles in universities, as well, showing that the problem is not contained to only senior roles.
Out of 216,530 academic staff working in professional occupations, associate professional and technical occupations, and clerical and manual occupations, only 4140 identified as black, and 130 identified as Asian, mixed, or another ethnicity.
At an event last month, I was struck by the number of students who said that the lack of diversity in the staff was the most important issue affecting their BME student experience https://t.co/kQLo8pgt3j
— Amatey Doku (@AmateyDoku) February 28, 2020
These figures reflect a lack of ethnic diversity in UK universities, highlighting the fact that blacks are the most underrepresented among all ethnic groups.
Chris Skidmore, higher education minister for England said, “It is unacceptable that the number of black academic staff in senior positions has fallen, as this does not represent our British society.
“Universities need to make more progress and I urge all vice-chancellors to address the barriers that are holding back black and ethnic minority staff from senior positions.”
“A true representation of Britain at the top levels of our universities will support the progression of [black and minority ethnic] staff, as well as improving students’ experience.”
Why do UK universities need to be more ethnically diverse?
Ethnic diversity is important across all population sectors in universities, whether its students, faculty, and staff.
Research has shown that students who have educators of the same race or ethnicity are more likely to look to those teachers as role models, and report making more effort in school and having higher college goals.
According to the National Viewpoint: The Importance of Hiring a Diverse Faculty report, “Students can find security in knowing that there is someone at their school or on their campus that has their best interest in mind, that is looking out for them, and more importantly, someone who understands their culture and the different things about them.
“Diversifying the faculty helps the student educationally. Many studies and longstanding research show that a diverse faculty and student body lead to great benefits in education for all students.”