Durham employs half as many BAME staff as Russell Group average

By and Tom Saunders

Data seen by Palatinate reveals that Durham University employs fewer BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) staff than other top UK universities.

For the 2017/18 academic year, whilst 14% of academics were BAME, 2.1% below the Russell Group average, this number fell to 7% when accounting for all staff, compared to an average of 13.7% across other elite universities.

This is despite the fact that 23% of all applications to jobs at Durham came from BAME candidates in the third quarter of 2018, rising to 26.6% in the previous quarter of this year.

This is despite the fact that 23% of all applications to jobs at Durham came from BAME candidates

Palatinate spoke to Dr Winston Morgan, reader in Toxicology and Clinical Biochemistry at the University of East London, and author of “Why is my professor still not black?”

Dr Morgan raised concerns that a lack of BAME staff could dissuade prospective BAME undergraduates from applying to the University: “If BAME students go on an open day and see BAME staff, they’re more likely to want to go”.

Even though they’re embarrassed by it, they don’t know why they’re embarrassed

Dr Winston Morgan

But he added: “It’s even more important for white students. If you’re training world leaders, then you need to get used to seeing BAME staff in positions of authority.

“Even though [the University] are embarrassed by it, they don’t know why they’re embarrassed. There’s a whole different issue they don’t even realise.”

Nailah Haque, President of Durham People of Colour Association (DPoCA), also expressed concern: “There isn’t a large BAME community here, which can make coming up here feel scary and isolating.

“The curriculum is very white and very Eurocentric […] and hiring more BAME professors or bringing in more BAME students will only ever solve so much [without] administrative changes to dismantle the racism that permeates the different levels of the University structure.”

Jon Bryan, a spokesperson for the University and College Union’s (UCU) northern branch, said: “It is quite shocking that we are having to ballot our members to get universities like Durham to start seriously addressing the issue of progression in higher education.

Dismantle the racism that permeates the different levels of the University structure

Nailah Haque, President of DPoCA

“It is going to take systematic change and some difficult conversations if we are going to make any headway.”

The data also indicated that only 36.6% of Durham academics are women, 6% less than the Russell Group average, and that the University employs fewer disabled academics than average.

Speaking to Palatinate¸ Professor Antony Long, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, said: “Equality, Diversity and Inclusion underpins everything we do at Durham and is central to the successful delivery of our University Strategy.”

Only 36% of Durham academics are women

The University wants to “increase the percentage of academic staff who are female to be in the top third of the Russell Group by 2027 and the percentage of academic staff who declare their ethnicity as BME to be at the Russell Group median by 2026.

“To achieve this, we have a number of actions underway both at individual departmental and broader institutional level relating to recruitment, retention and progression.

“We appreciate that there is more we can do in this area and will continue to work with our staff and recruitment partners to achieve this.”

Image by rogbi200 via Flickr

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