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HESA Finds Growing Numbers of Academic Staff from Non-EU Backgrounds and Ethnic Minorities

The composition of academic staff in the United Kingdom has been scrutinised in the evolving landscape of higher education. The latest report from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reveals intriguing trends in the demographic makeup of academic professionals, showcasing both progress and areas for further development.

A Serious Shift in the Profile of Academic Staff

The HESA report for the academic year 2022/23 presents a significant increase in the diversity of academic staff within UK higher education institutions. Notably, there has been a marked rise in the proportion of staff hailing from non-EU backgrounds and ethnic minority communities. This shift reflects the global nature of academia and underscores efforts towards inclusivity and representation within the sector.

According to the data, 17% of the 240.420 academic staff employed across UK higher education providers now come from non-EU backgrounds, representing an 11% increase from the previous year. This surge has propelled non-EU nationals to surpass their EU counterparts, marking a critical moment in the composition of academic professionals.

“An increasing proportion of academic staff are of non-EU nationality and from ethnic minority backgrounds.” - HESA

The statistics further illuminate the strides made in enhancing diversity within academic ranks. The number of Black academic staff has surged by 18%, with an even more remarkable 25% increase observed among Black professors. While these figures denote progress, it's essential to acknowledge that Black professors still constitute only 1% of the total professoriate, highlighting the ongoing need for concerted efforts to address barriers to progression.

Moreover, the report underscores the growing presence of female academics, with 31% of professors now being women. This upward trajectory reflects a gradual shift towards gender parity in senior academic roles.

“The number of Black academic staff rose by 18%. The number of Black academic staff with the contract level of ‘Professor’ rose by 25% but represented only 1% of all professors.” - HESA

Contractual Dynamics and Employment Conditions

Diversity extends beyond demographics, encompassing the higher education sector's contractual arrangements and employment conditions. The data reveal a notable shift in contract types, with 70% of academic staff now on permanent or open-ended contracts, signifying a move away from fixed-term arrangements.

Furthermore, the breakdown of academic functions sheds light on the evolving landscape of scholarly pursuits within the sector. While 43% of academic staff are engaged in teaching and research, there has been a steady rise in the proportion of those on teaching-only contracts, reaching 36% in 2022/23.

“On 1 December 2022, 70% of academic staff were on permanent or open-ended contracts and 30% on fixed-term contracts.” - HESA

As the higher education landscape evolves, embracing diversity becomes imperative for fostering innovation, creativity, and excellence. The latest HESA findings signal a positive trajectory towards a more inclusive academic community where individuals from diverse backgrounds contribute their unique perspectives and expertise.

However, these statistics also serve as a reminder of the work that remains to be done. Addressing systemic inequalities, enhancing support structures, and fostering an inclusive culture are essential steps towards building a truly equitable higher education environment.

Today's data release marks a milestone in the ongoing journey towards diversity and inclusion within UK higher education. As we await further insights into student demographics and staff data, let us remain committed to creating a more equitable and accessible academic landscape for all.

For further details and access to the full report, visit HESA's official website:


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