Ethnic minority academics earn less than white colleagues

When Meenakshi Sarkar landed a job as a teaching fellow at Leeds University after a successful career in business in India, she was delighted, BBC reports.

But the university put her on the lowest possible academic pay band, leaving her struggling financially.

It became clear that colleagues were paid more for similar work, leaving her feeling “depressed and devalued”.

Ms Sarkar’s frustration is not unusual, according to data obtained by BBC News under Freedom of Information law.

The BBC sent FOI requests to all 24 universities in the Russell Group of highly selective, research-based universities, and 22 responded.

At these universities, the data showed average salaries of:

  • £52,000 for white academics
  • £38,000 for black academics
  • £37,000 for academics from an Arab background

This means that black and Arab academics at the UK’s top universities earn an average 26% less than white colleagues.

The Russell Group said it was unable to comment on individual universities’ recruitment practices.

But Leeds University said it took the issue “very seriously”.

The former Universities Minister and Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy said the figures showed universities needed to “take a look in the mirror and realise that more needs to be done to both widen access at undergraduate level and to keep and retain a diverse cohort right through to PhDs, professorships and the very top of these institutions”.

The figures disclosed to the BBC came as the government revealed plans to make ethnicity pay reporting mandatory for companies with more than 250 employees.

Read more here: Ethnic minority academics earn less than white colleagues

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