Figures Show That There is a Lack of Black Professors in UK Universities

Recent Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) figures show fewer than 1% of UK university professors are Black. Despite an increase in universities employing both academic and non-academic staff to record levels, generally growth in employing more staff from ethnic backgrounds remains slow. 

Only 140 academic staff at professorial level identify as Black. This equates to 0.7% out of more than 21,000 academic staff whilst nearly 18,000 (85%) identified as white. Asian professors make up around 1,360 of people in the UK, whilst more than 2,000 identified as being from ‘other’ ethnic backgrounds. 

These statistics imply that the vast majority of universities employ between  0-2 Black professorials. Oxford, Sussex, Manchester and Warwick are Universities that employ more Black professors on average in comparison to other universities. 

Male professors continue to outnumber females, whilst previous research has found that UK universities employed just 25 Black women as professors. This is despite the number of women in general in the industry increasing to 1,200 in five years from 2014-15. 

Overall Black academics make up just 2% of the total working at UK universities. HESA data published in January suggested that no Black staff were employed at the most senior levels of British universities. Ministers have gone on to describe this as ‘unacceptable’.  

These figures also show that out of 3,600 UK university governors, only 75 labelled themselves as Black. The data included governors throughout all of the UK, including England, Scotland and Wales. 

The HESA statistics also highlighted the rise in the non-continuation figures among mature students, as well as first-year students. England had the highest non continuation rate, with 6.9% in 2017 -18 of first years dropping out of higher education institutions. Office for Students described this increase as ‘concerning’. Nicola Dandridge, the chief executive of the Office for Students, said:

“English higher education enjoys internationally high completion rates, but an increase in the proportion of students dropping out is a concern.”

Mainstream universities generally had non-continuation rates of between 15% and 26%, whereas alternative providers had very high dropout rates. Including the UK College of Business and Computing, which had 80 of its 165 graduates unable to continue after their first year. 

University Minister for England Michelle Donelan commented: 

“With high numbers of students continuing to drop out, this data shows progress is slow from some institutions to tackle the issue. I want universities to step up and take action as we cannot let these students down and let talent go to waste.”