Projects per year
data collected by HE institutions during the academic years 2015-16 to 2019-20, as reported to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
The study was conducted in order to gain an understanding of the state of the discipline of education in the interests of addressing inequalities. It explored where certain markers of sameness and difference – in terms of characteristics of sex, ethnicity, age, disability, religious belief and nationality – may have affected staff employment between 2015 and 2020. This included analysing the percentages of staff, the proportions of groupings, and the rate of change in employment conditions, as captured in HESA data during the period researched. This enabled the researchers to identify the differential and, where possible to ascertain, the intersectional impacts on the access, positioning, attainment, progression and attrition of education staff. Main findings are summarised below.
GENERAL EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS WHICH MAY HAVE AN IMPACT ON EQUALITY
When education is compared with all other disciplines in the UK HE sector there are a series of concerning findings about general employment conditions for academic staff within education. These are of concern for equality.
The smaller rate of growth in the number of staff employed in education, which was less than that of the UK HE sector generally, was of concern. Growth was primarily in ‘teaching only’ contracts in education, with the proportion of ‘teaching and research’ contracts shrinking in the period studied.
More staff in education were employed in senior grades than in junior grades, differing from the pattern in the UK HE sector generally. Despite this, lower proportions of staff in education progressed to professorial level than in the UK HE sector.
A positive condition for the discipline was that a higher proportion of staff in education were on permanent contracts than in the UK HE sector generally. The proportion of education staff on fixed-term contracts decreased over the period studied, particularly staff in junior grades.
There were concerns about structural conditions for research in education. The
proportion of staff on ‘research only’ contracts was significantly lower than in the UK HE sector as a whole. In education, the combined contracts of ‘research only’ and ‘teaching and research’ made up two-thirds of the proportions of staff contracts, which too was lower than in the UK HE sector generally.
STAFF COMPOSITION AND EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS
The study analysed staff composition for what it revealed about possible inequalities. Although there was some consistency across the UK HE sector, there were also notable differences between devolved nations. This finding suggests that care should be exercised by scholars of higher education to differentiate between the devolved nations. This has been done below, with comparisons drawn with the UK HE sector and, where relevant, with the local HE sector of the devolved nation.
Overall, there were more female than male staff in education. However, the opposite was observed for particular minority ethnic groups, and for those whose primary nationality was not held in high-income countries.Despite the smaller number of male staff in education overall, indications were that they were advantaged. Of the male staff, higher proportions were employed in ‘teaching and research’; in senior academic positions; at professorial level; and in senior management, than the proportions observed in female staff.
It was found that the percentage of female staff working in education decreased consistently with age, while the percentage of male staff increased. On average, there was a shorter career duration for female staff in education at senior levels. The percentage of female staff progressing to professorships increased after age 41; for male staff the increase was sooner at age 31. By age 66, there were twice as many male professors in education as female professors.
In the devolved nations, Wales had the highest proportion of female staff in education. This was consistent with its local HE sector, which had the highest proportion of female staff compared to the UK HE sector. Northern Ireland had the lowest proportion of female staff in education, consistent with its local HE sector, which employed the lowest proportion of females in the UK. England was the only devolved nation to return values for ‘other’, in terms of sex, in education. However, the amounts returned were too small for statistical analysis.
The proportion of staff recorded as ‘white’ was higher in education than that of the UK HE sector. While there were increases in access in staff recorded as black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) over the period studied, the rates of growth were insufficient to address the underrepresentation. Thus, in 2020, the proportion of those education staff recorded as BAME was less than half that of the UK HE sector.
Close analysis revealed that the increases in education staff recorded as BAME were primarily at junior level and through ‘teaching only’ contracts. Under-representation was most extreme for those categorised as black and Asian/Asian British Bangladeshi. The devolved nation with the least ethnic diversity, and the highest proportion of staff recorded as white, was Northern Ireland. This was followed by Wales, Scotland and England.
HESA datasets categorise the nationality of education staff by UK, EU, non-UK/ EU, and individual countries, recording a ‘primary nationality’ only. It was found that education was homogenous when it came to the nationalities of its staff. There were higher proportions of staff in education with UK primary nationality than the proportions observed in the whole UK HE sector. For staff with EU and non-EU/UK primary nationality, access to employment in education was thus
proportionally far lower.
There was more diversity of nationalities held by education staff recorded as BAME. The proportion of those holding non-EU/UK and EU primary nationalities was higher than the proportion of those recorded as white. However, those holding UK primary nationality were the largest proportion of staff recorded as BAME in education, far higher than that observed in the UK HE sector.
A very small percentage of education staff had their recorded primary nationality from the Global South, at a lower percentage than that of the UK HE sector. Most of those education staff were positioned in junior positions. The percentage of staff employed from low-income countries in education was so small that it was
rounded to zero.
While all the devolved nations employed higher proportions of staff in education with UK primary nationality than was evident in their respective local HE sectors, the largest proportion was in Wales, with considerable differences in proportions compared with those of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The largest proportion of staff recorded as EU primary nationality was in Northern Ireland (of which the majority held their primary nationality from the Republic of Ireland), followed by Scotland, England and Wales.
Education in all the devolved nations employed considerably lower proportions of staff with EU primary nationality than their respective local HE sectors. Of those employing staff with non-EU/UK primary nationality, Scotland employed
the largest proportion, followed by England, Northern Ireland and Wales. These proportions were again significantly lower than in their local HE sectors.
It was found that the discipline of education had an older staff composition than that of the UK HE sector. The largest proportions of staff employed in education were in the 46 to 60 age-group. Most staff in Northern Ireland and Wales were between age 46 and 55, while in England, the largest proportion was age 56 to 60. In Scotland, staff were employed across the age bands.
The majority of reporting was ‘information refused’ or ‘no religion and not available’ under religious belief. Significantly higher proportions of staff in education were recorded as Christian compared with the proportions in the UK HE sector. There were lower proportions of staff recorded as Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh or ‘spiritual and other’ in education than those of the UK HE sector.
Wales had the largest proportion of education staff recorded as Christian, at proportions higher than those of its local HE sector. Scotland had the largest proportion of staff with religious beliefs recorded as Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and ‘spiritual and other’. However, the proportion of education staff in this category was lower than the proportions in Scotland’s local HE sector.
|Place of Publication||London|
|Publisher||British Educational Research Association|
|Number of pages||78|
|Publication status||Published - 11 Jan 2023|
|Name||Education: The State of the Discipline|
FingerprintDive into the research topics of 'Education: The State of the Discipline: an exploration of existing statistical data relating to staff equality in UK higher education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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Dataset for published report entitled "Education: The State of the Discipline: An exploration of existing statistical data relating to staff equality in UK higher education"
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Education is in a State: Exploration of In/Equalities Shown in Statistical Data of Academic Staffing in UK Higher Education07 Sep 2022
Activity: Talk or presentation types › Oral presentationFile
- 2 Paper
Education is in a state: exploration of in/equalities shown in statistical data of academic staffing in higher education (invited paper, AERA)Belluigi, D. Z., Arday, J. & O'Keeffe, J., 12 Apr 2023, (Accepted).
Research output: Contribution to conference › Paper › peer-review
Education is in a state: exploration of in/equalities shown in statistical data of academic staffing in higher education (invited paper, EARLI)Belluigi, D. Z., Arday, J. & O'Keeffe, J., 01 Jan 2023, (Accepted).
Research output: Contribution to conference › Paper › peer-review