Bath falls behind on black students and lecturers

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Studies from the last year show that only 0.85% of lecturers at the University of Bath are black compared to the national average of 1.48%.

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University of Bath has less than the national average black students

Similarly, a mere 1.7% of UK-based students in Bath identify as black compared to the national average of around 6%, figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa, 2012/13) suggest.

A Freedom of Information request also revealed that the University of Bath had ‘less than five’ black professors. The exact number could not be given due to data protection laws.

The revelations emerge as the debate surrounding the lack of black representation in academia and higher education continues to grow.

The University of Bath itself has recognised the necessity to “attract a more diverse student body through a number of outreach initiatives”, and state that in the last six years, there has in fact been a 4% increase in black and minority ethnic (BME) students (or students of non-white descent).

However, a disparity between student attainment for white students and black students prevails, with 10% more white students achieving First-Class degrees, as well as the pay gap between white and black employees being 4.2% higher for the former.

A recent report by the Runnymede Trust highlighted the fact that in spite of marginal increases in BME students, they are still under-represented at the best universities and less likely to get the same jobs as their white counterparts.

Staggeringly low figures such as there being only 15 black academics in positions of senior authority and only 17 black female professors in the entire British university system are amongst the findings of the report.

On the other hand, Bath is well renowned for being a predominantly white area and black residents only constitute 0.8% of its population.

In a similar vein, the fact that 0.85% of lecturers are black and 1.16% of students are black is significant as there are in fact a higher proportion of black students and lecturers than reflect the ethnic make-up of the area.

This might explain why London, for example, has a black population of 13% and King’s College London has 2% of black lecturers and 6.3% of Black students respectively, both figures above the national average.

Despite this, actions are being taken by the University of Bath to combat such inequality by means of further research into why black staff are not progressing to the same level as their white colleagues, as well as raising awareness of this inequality.

Conversely, the essence of the problem is perhaps encompassed best by David Lammy, an MP of Guyanese descent for Tottenham, who recognises that although universities, such as the University of Bath, acknowledge the problem of race inequality, in spite of their “lofty ideals… they do no better – and are in fact doing worse…when it comes to race equality”.
The University of Bath Students’ Union Community Officer Tommy Parker has stated “The University needs to look into the lack of black lecturures and senior staff very critically. Having role models within the institution is incredibly important, not only in promoting diversity, but showing black students that they can get into the world of academia.”

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Maighna Nanu is a Spanish & Politics student. She writes about University of Bath issues, including education and the Students' Union.

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