Analysis: Highest paid Durham University staff are disproportionately white and male

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Palatinate analysis of data provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) has shown that there is a disproportionate number of white and male full-time academic staff in Durham who are paid the highest salaries.

The data from the 2022 to 2023 academic year shows that 77% of total full-time academic staff at Durham University identified as white. However, 89% of the full- time academic staff who were being paid in the highest salary bracket of above £65,578 were white. In the UK as a whole it is 79% of white full- time academic staff who are being paid in this salary bracket.

On the other hand, 20% of total full-time academic staff at Durham University identified as an ethnic minority but only 8% being paid above £65,578 identified as an ethnic minority.

In terms of gender, 58% of total full-time academic staff at Durham University identified as men. However, 72% of full-time academic staff who were being paid in the highest salary bracket of above £65,578 were men, whereas in the HESA data this figure is 66% nationally. On the other hand, only 28% of full-time academic staff on a salary above £58,127 were women.

In total 27% of Durham’s full-time teaching staff are in the highest salary bracket.

Men make up 72% of highest earning full-time academic staff in Durham, but 66% nationally, according to HESA data

A spokesperson for Durham University said: “At Durham, we are building an equitable and inclusive community where everyone can thrive. Building on earlier contributions by dedicated staff and students, we have now laid firm foundations for our work and we do recognise that we are not yet where we would like to be.

“In 2022, we received the Bronze Race Equality Charter (REC) Award in recognition of our desire and ongoing work to address racial disparities, as part of our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. At Durham, the REC framework has helped us identify, reflect upon and address institutional and cultural barriers that stand in the way of our racially minoritised staff and students. As part of our action plan, we have a specific objective around accelerating and improving support for BAME staff career progression (academic and professional services staff).

“The action plan links with other shared institutional agendas such as our global strategy, widening participation, diversifying the curriculum, tackling racism, and promoting a culture of respect both within and beyond the boundaries of our institution.”

Durham University signed up to the Race Equality Charter, which aims to improve the representation, progression and success of racially minoritised communities within higher education, in March 2019. The University successfully submitted an application to be conferred a Bronze REC Award in May 2022.

A comparison with HESA’s salary data for the academic year 2014 to 2015 do show progress is being made in diversity in the highest salary bracket.

In 2014-25, 85% of total full- time academic staff at Durham University identified as white, but 94% of full-time academic staff, who were being paid in the HESA data’s highest salary bracket of above £58,127, were white. In terms of gender, 67% of total full- time academic staff at Durham University identified as men in 2014-15. However, 77% of full-time academic staff who were being paid in the highest salary bracket were men. On the other hand, only 23% of full-time academic staff on a salary above £65,578 were women.

The figures provided by HESA may not add up to 100% because the agency rounds to nearest 5 people and has an ‘ethnicity not known’ category in their data.

In response to these figures, the President of Durham’s People of Colour Association said, “Academic staff play an incredibly important role in student life, shaping curricula as well as impacting student experience. A diverse staff is crucial to ensuring students are able to explore a variety of perspectives in their courses, as well as in creating a hospitable environment for students of colour, particularly those wishing to pursue a career in academia. The underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in senior positions thus not only harms staff but students as well. It is therefore necessary for the university to take steps to better cater to full-time academics from marginalised and particularly ethnic backgrounds in order to honour its commitment to students and create an equitable and anti-racist environment for all members of the Durham community”.

In reaction to the HESA data on gender pay disparities, Durham University’s spokesperson went on to say, “As well as holding a number of Departmental awards, in 2018 we were also awarded a bronze institutional Athena SWAN award and are working towards achieving a silver. We have an action plan and team in place to help build a gender-equal institution through policies, procedures, and practices which address inequalities and support the fulfilment of strategic aims.

“We continue to strive to make progress in these areas and we know there is more to do and more that can be done, our REC action plan and Gender Equality Action Plan clearly set out our objectives and endeavours. We’re not complacent and we are working to build a safe, respectful and inclusive environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves and flourish no matter what their race, background, gender, or sexual orientation.”

“The underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in senior positions not only harms staff but students as well”

President of Durham’s People of Colour Association

The Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) Charter enables organisations to apply for an award recognising their commitment to gender equality and focuses on addressing institutional inequalities relating to gender. Durham University’s Gender Equality Action Plan includes over 100 separate points of action that hopes to promote dignity and respect within the University community; recruit, retain and promote more women and BAME staff at all grades and types of staff; improve the diversity of decision makers and increase female representation.

Data from Durham’s annual financial statement for the year- end July 2023 showed that salaries for all staff, not just academic, make up £204,703,000 of Durham University’s total expenditure. The financial statement also showed that there are 93 staff, who are not necessarily academic staff, of Durham University who earn more than £100,000.

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