Figures Suggest Zero Black Professors Employed at the University of Leeds

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Statistics published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) have revealed low numbers of Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff at British universities across the country. 

At the University of Leeds in particular, the figures show that the institution has a small minority of Black teaching professionals. 

Out of 3,785 academic staff at the University of Leeds, only 40 of their full-time academics were Black making up just 1%. For comparison, 3.5% of the population in Leeds according to the 2011 census were Black and nationally, 1.9% of academic staff are Black.

Looking further into the data, it appears no academic staff who identified as Black qualified for HESA’s highest pay grade of £61,618 and above. The statistics revealed that the majority of Black University of Leeds academics were on a medium salary of £34,189 and above. 

The HESA statistics also suggested there were zero Black Professors employed at the University of Leeds. Breaking down the statistics further, the figures showed there were only 15 Asian Professors, 5 Professors who identified as mixed race, and 5 Professors whose ethnicity was classified as Other. By contrast, there were 290 White Professors at the University of Leeds.

It must be noted however that 110 Professors did not declare their ethnicity. 

Statistics revealed in a Freedom of Information request earlier this year showed the number of BAME employees on salaries higher than £100,000 has not increased above more than 7 over the last four years with the number dropping below 5 in 2017-18. 

This meant there were 7 BAME employees earning more than £100,000 compared to 117 White employees. This meant they only made up 4% of staff in this grouping. 

By comparison, the percentage of BAME staff across the entire University is nearly three times as high at 11% with the wider BAME population in Leeds standing at 15%.

The new HESA figures would also suggest there are no Black staff amongst the top paid employees at the University of Leeds last year.

The Gryphon also previously reported a pay gap between White and Black employees of 39% in 2018.

The statistics suggested too that the University of Leeds has no Black managers, directors or senior officials. This is similar to the situation at most UK universities where the HESA data suggests that Black staff were the least employed racial groups in the most senior levels of the British Higher Education sector.

In response to why the University appeared to employ zero Black professors or senior officials in the data, a University of Leeds spokesperson said:

“Improving staff diversity is a sector-wide issue that Leeds takes very seriously, and through a strategic focus on recruitment, rewards, and people development practices, we are working hard to create a fair and inclusive workplace. The university ​acknowledges the current high non-disclosure rate ​and is working to improve the data quality to secure an accurate understanding of our position. 

Image: George Stamets. See more of his photos on FlickrInstagram or website.

The University of Leeds is not unique in Leeds either with other universities in the city reflecting the similar patterns. Leeds Beckett University hired a considerably low number of ethnic minority academic staff. In fact only 25 out of their 770 full-time academic staff identified as Black.

A spokesperson for Leeds Beckett University said:

“Compared to the HE sector in general, we have a higher proportion of black academics, particularly in senior positions, and will continue to increase the diversity of colleagues across the university.”

Black full-time academic staff made up 2.9% at Leeds Beckett University in 2019, 1% higher than the national average in higher education.

In the data for 2018-19, it appears that Leeds Trinity University and Leeds Art University have hired zero academic staff who identified as Black. 

A Leeds Arts University spokesperson said:

“In 2018/19, BAME colleagues made up 3.75 per cent of Leeds Arts University’s full time academic teaching staff, including a member of the senior management team, and 4 per cent of all academic staff.

“We recognise the issues of BAME underrepresentation at the University and adverts for all academic posts state that we welcome applications from black and minority ethnic candidates.”

A recently published Diversity, Inclusion Report for 2019 can be found here.

Leeds Trinity University and Leeds Arts University have both gone on to confirm the figure of 0 isn’t entirely accurate due to the way HESA data is processed.  The figures have been rounded down in order to prevent the identification of any individuals through the publishing of public HESA data.

Professor Ray Lloyd, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Leeds Trinity University, said:

“Unfortunately, racial inequality remains a significant issue within higher education and we must achieve an institutional culture change to eliminate this permanently.

“Three years ago, we began our work to improve the representation, progression and success of BAME staff and students at Leeds Trinity – and we have made significant progress. However, to achieve our aim of reducing inequality completely, there is a lot more to be done.

“Our submission for the Equality Challenge Unit’s Race Equality Charter mark outlines how will reduce race inequality at the University over the next five years, and we are absolutely committed to making this change. Our action plan is challenging but we believe it is achievable.”

Leeds Trinity University submitted its application for the Race Equality Charter (REC) mark in September.

The statistics from Leeds universities come as no surprise.  The HESA figures show that the vast majority of UK universities only employ 0 to 2 Black Professors on average. Across the UK, just 1% of professors in Britain are Black with no University employed more than 5 Black professors.

Yaz Osho, a senior lecturer at the University of Northumbria said in an interview with the Guardian: 

‘Having spent 17 years in UK higher education, I’ve experienced racial stereotyping first-hand. I have witnessed many talented Black female academics move abroad and achieve successful academic careers. These scholars failed to reach their career ambitions in the UK despite their talent, grit and determination.’

The HESA data also shed a light on the difference in non-continuation rates of minority students in comparison with their white peers.  

Earlier this year, The Gryphon reported that non-continuation rates at the University of Leeds for Black students was 9.6% in the year 2018/19. When compared to the drop out rates on White students during the same period, the figures showed only 5.4% of White students dropped out. 

The figures show that overall Black students were 78% more likely to drop out of the University of Leeds, than their White counterparts. A lack of BAME academic staff is seen as one of the contributing factors towards awarding gaps between White and BAME students.

A University of Leeds spokesperson said in response to this figure:

“In common with many other universities, we are working to improve our student non-continuation rates, and it is a complex picture affected by many different factors. Enabling all students to succeed at Leeds is something that everyone who works here is committed to, and our Access and Participation Plan, approved by the Office for Students, sets out our strategic approach.”

The University’s Access and Participation Plan can be found here.

However this gap is not unique to the University of Leeds when looking at the non-continuation rate across the country, a similar pattern can be found. The HESA data also shows that in general, the non-continuation gap in UK universities has risen, with universities in England seeing the sharpest rise, with 6.9% of first-years in 2017-18 failing to continue their studies the following year, up from 6.5% in 2014-15. 

Cecily Jones, the former director of the Centre for Caribbean studies at the University Warwick further commented in the Guardian saying:  

‘With widening participation initiatives resulting in increased BAME student recruitment, Black women academics are invariably forced to take on additional intellectual and emotional labour. 

As admissions tutor and open-day coordinator, prospective Black students and their parents would inform me in hushed tones of their surprise at seeing a Black woman academic leading recruitment presentations.’

Main image credited to George Stamets. See more of his photos on FlickrInstagram or website.