The most recent employment records from The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), cited by both The Huffington Post UK and The Guardian, strongly suggest that there are currently no black senior officials, directors, or managers at British universities and that this has been this case for the last three years.
Analysis by The Huffington Post UK has shown that of the 565 academics working in top management roles during 2015/16, 90 per cent were white. Only 15 were Asian, while 10 identified as “other including mixed” and 30 chose not to reveal their ethnicity.
The Guardian has analysed further to show that British universities currently employ more black staff as cleaners, receptionists or porters than as lecturers or professors.
This evidence of a stark lack of black senior officials in British higher education follows a statement from SOAS’ Students’ Union claiming that the success of BME students is limited, and the ‘BME attainment gap’ is perpetuated by a concerning lack of diversity in university lecturers.
The figures are also coupled with evidence of black students struggling to win places at British universities. In January of this year, UCAS stated that only 70 per cent of black students received university offers, despite record numbers of applicants and comparatively better predicted grades than in previous years.
David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham and a former higher education minister, told The Guardian in response: “This is absolutely shocking. I am appalled that higher education is so deeply unrepresentative of the country.”
An anonymous BME student who grew up in a largely BME-populated school said that he thought the lack of diversity in lecturers was “indicative of a wider problem” regarding the presentation of BME people in society.
He told The Mancunion: “You rarely see BME people as MPs, judges, lawyers, or teachers… [and this] lack of role models makes it harder for BME children and students to see themselves in those positions of authority and perpetuates harmful stereotypes.”
However, not everyone holds this view. The Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University, Sir Anthony Seldon, told The Sunday Times: “White people can’t teach BME students? Really? I think this claim is unfair and untrue and disrespectful to universities and members of staff.”
The University of Manchester’s Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Patrick Johnson, said: “The University of Manchester — in common with the whole higher education sector — has a lack of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff in senior positions.
“We acknowledge that we have work to do, which is why our Manchester 2020 strategy contains a key performance indicator to increase the number of senior BAME staff, and this is reviewed annually by the leadership team.
“We are also one of only nine universities to be awarded the Race Equality Charter Mark, which demonstrates our commitment to supporting and advancing the careers of BAME staff.”