Hmmm

No black academics have worked in senior management in any British university for the last three years, according to employment records.

Figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency record no black academics in the elite staff category of “managers, directors and senior officials” in 2015-16 – the third year in a row that this has happened.

Among the 535 senior officials who declared their ethnicity, 510 were white, 15 were Asian and 10 were recorded as “other including mixed”. Thirty senior academics either refused or failed to record an ethnicity.

The figures also show universities employ more black staff as cleaners, receptionists or porters than as lecturers or professors.

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham and a former higher education minister, said: “This is absolutely shocking. I am appalled that higher education is so deeply unrepresentative of the country.

“Universities talk about widening participation and fair access but the complete lack of diversity in senior positions sends out an absolutely dreadful message to young people from ethnic minorities who find themselves wondering whether university is for them or not.”

Umm, well. The figures don’t in fact show no one. They show only that no one declared that they are black. Which is indeed a mildly different thing.

Black is, for the UK, about 3%. So, among 500 we might expect 15 if it were a properly random distribution. But is it random?

Lammy’s assumption, that it’s the universities discriminating against, looks deeply suspect to me. One of the most painfully lefty and OC sectors of the British economy is openly discriminating against blacks? It’s t’other with bells on it.

Of course, that very denial only leaves us with the idea that black British culture somehow discriminates against academic success and that couldn’t possibly be right, could it?

33 comments on “Hmmm

  1. One of the most painfully lefty and OC sectors of the British economy is openly discriminating against blacks? It’s t’other with bells on it.

    How many are Jewish? If British universities were rife with racism, you would think that anti-semitism would be common. You know, I don’t recall Simon Schama ever complaining about anti-semitism, but he probably has. Certainly being a Jewish apologist for mass murderer never seemed to hurt Eric Hobsbawm. Being an actual Jewish mass murderer didn’t hurt Zygmund Bauman either. In fact Oxford used to provide a home for someone wanted for War crimes in Poland. She wasn’t a Nazi.

    “Of course, that very denial only leaves us with the idea that black British culture somehow discriminates against academic success and that couldn’t possibly be right, could it?”

    That is not the only idea it leave us with. There is another obvious option. But let’s stick with culture. The other thing is simply time. University professors and the like tend to be old. Britain was Whiter back then and so the intake at the junior level was Whiter as well. It is not as if we are importing senior academics from the power house colleges of Ghana.

  2. British culture as a whole is massively anti-intellectual. Anyone doing well at school (whether effortlessly or through effort) was derided as a “spod” (which was the delightful term at my schools).

    Britain isn’t a meritocracy, it’s a mediocracy.

    Effort is, after all, akin to trade, and we all know what people think about *that*.

  3. abacab – “Anyone doing well at school (whether effortlessly or through effort) was derided as a “spod” (which was the delightful term at my schools). Britain isn’t a meritocracy, it’s a mediocracy.”

    Which benefited British universities no end. The socially awkward found a haven away from everyone else, and everyone else basically left them alone to get on with it. And they did. You know, penicillin and all that. Countries where universities are politically important are hell holes.

    What British universities need is benign neglect. Not more government money. Not more reform. Not more social inclusion. And not more government targets for darker but weaker students and academics.

  4. I’m appalled at the low number of 30-ish who refused to declare. This is light years away from the number of refusals we should expect if academics adopted the Great British value that the colour of their ancestors is none of the government’s business.

  5. @SMFS – indeed, when the universities welcomed the top 15-20% of students, rather than being the extension of 6th form that many of them are now.

    It was GREAT at Oxford without there being any form of bullying based on intelligence or effort. Of course, the real geniuses gave the impression of effortlessly sailing through and showing off intelligence was still frowned upon, but nobody called anyone else a “spod”. Cos under the school definition we all were, whether introverted wierdo or rugger bugger sporty cool guy.

  6. Premiership football discriminates against white English players.

    They are massively underrepresented.

    But this is different you say? Why?

  7. abacab
    I agree British culture as a whole is anti-intellectual; but I don’t agree it’s anti-effort or anti-trade as a whole, though parts of it certainly are. I’d say the British generally respect practical rather than theoretical intelligence, and they do respect people who make the best of themselves. The bias towards the practical and ‘commonsense’ has also saved this country from the ideological enthusiasms that have swept the continent and live on there.

  8. Are you lot really surprised to find out either that lefty wankers are actually the most racist segment of society, or that where market forces do not operate, there’s more opportunity for unfair discrimination?

    SMFS>

    You are, as usual, utterly absurd. There’s an incredibly strong strain of antisemitism in British academia, and British leftyism generally.

  9. “One of the most painfully lefty and OC sectors of the British economy is openly discriminating against blacks? It’s t’other with bells on it.”

    Oh no, I really wouldn’t bet against it. The arts sector is mostly in London but almost entirely white. Which considering the demographics makes no sense. Sure, they’ll commission an opera by Bonnie Greer to show they’re not racist, to tick some boxes in the most public ways, but most of the management of those arts organisations are white.

    But it’s not explicitly about race – it’s about people’s personal networks, their clubs. Look at how many politicians went to school together, how many people at the BBC, in the Graun, in all these places are related or went to school together. I mean, both Dimbleby sons happened to be the best possible people to present news shows out of thousands of people? What are the odds? Then compare it to say, football. OK, you get the sons of footballers playing, but you often find they’re 2 or 3 divisions down. The Nevilles and the Charltons are exceptionally rare.

    And it’s down to incentives. People in the public sector have lots of incentives to hire their mates, and few disincentives. Do they get paid more if someone does a great job of sticking on Othello rather than just a good job? So, why not just give the job to your mate’s niece, and he’ll hire your niece?

  10. And women? Black women? Surely not sexism as well as racism?

    Or is the whole thing just a matter of ovaries (female bollocks)?

  11. I’m not terribly surprised at the under-representation of black people in university management, for reasons given by Dave and BiW; but why are they so over-represented in hospitals and local government?

  12. Government requires that employers ignore race, sex, disability, ethnicity and so on. Then demand a count of how many there are in that employment.

  13. ‘according to employment records.

    Figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency’

    So this Higher Education Statistics Agency gets to look at people’s records. That’s a fine “How do you do.”

  14. The last time I was asked to fill in a form with ethnicity I asked what they were short of.

    Black, Hindu lesbians apparently…

  15. It’s hardly news that in advanced societies blacks don’t seem to pull their weight economically. Mr Lammy might like to ponder why, or more likely he’s determined not to ponder why.

  16. “No black academics have worked in senior management in any British university…”

    Senior – maybe a clue there

    Since ‘Blacks’ in the UK is a post-WWII thing, perhaps none of the successor generations have been around long enough in academia to be ‘senior’… yet.

  17. 3% of the total population, but actually a far smaller proportion of the senior manager population (say 50ish). And probably less highly educated in that group. This is the same bollox that Lenny Henry spouts about DG of the BBC. qualified blacks in the right demographic category will be statistically indistinguishable from zero. In 30 years I’d expect there to be something around 3% black academics in senior positions.

  18. sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/CBCB/census2_part1.pdf

    1.3% of the UK population in 1991. Adjust for educational outcomes and you can see why no senior blacks in today.

  19. If it’s listed as an option, I put ‘African’ under ethnicity since, from a strictly phylogenetic standpoint, it’s true, but meaningless.

    Universities are neither the least nor the most meritocratic institutions in the UK. But any discrimination against black academics is likely to be much more down the rational end (not up to snuff) rather than the bigoted end (is it cos I is black?). That’s a whole different kettle of fish.

  20. Dave – “Are you lot really surprised to find out either that lefty wankers are actually the most racist segment of society, or that where market forces do not operate, there’s more opportunity for unfair discrimination?”

    I would be surprised if there was any discrimination in the world of the Hard Science at all. Whether or not there were any market forces.

    “You are, as usual, utterly absurd. There’s an incredibly strong strain of antisemitism in British academia, and British leftyism generally.”

    Well no there isn’t. Actually. You’re just paranoid about your favorite little hobby horse. But even if there was, it is doing a p!ss poor job of keeping Jews out of important jobs and so simply makes my point for me.

    Andrew M – “but why are they so over-represented in hospitals and local government?”

    And prisons.

    ken – “In 30 years I’d expect there to be something around 3% black academics in senior positions.”

    You want to bet? At least if the system still remains vaguely meritocratic. America has thrown billions at the problem of Black under-performance in schools. They have failed to shift the needle at all. There is no reason to think we will.

  21. If it’s listed as an option, I put ‘African’ under ethnicity since, from a strictly phylogenetic standpoint, it’s true, but meaningless.

    Nice to know I’m not the only one!

  22. smfs

    Blacks will be a far higher percentage of the eligible pool in 30 years – precisely because they are new arrivals or more likely the children of new arrivals. Relative to their percentage in the overall eligible population, they will be underrepresented – down to ability, opportunities etc. Which is why I said about 3%, which I guess would be around half of the eligible pool.

  23. “Black is, for the UK, about 3%.”

    I was going to make a point about IQ, but Martin has beaten me to it. The average person doesn’t have the brains to become an academic. Not that you have to be that bright, and of course lots of academics are sort of idiots in a way, but you’ve got to be at least fairly bright. So even the fact that blacks make up 3% of the UK population isn’t that irrelevant. It’s what percentage they are of people in the UK with IQs over 120-odd that is of more relevance. I suspect that percentage is very low.

  24. Sorry, “So even the fact that blacks make up 3% of the UK population isn’t that irrelevant” should be “So even the fact that blacks make up 3% of the UK population isn’t that relevant.”

  25. How many black senior academics are there in UK universities from which to select these people? Or, to put it another way, how many black postdocs were there 30 years ago, and have they remained in academia.

    It is inevitable that senior management will lag behind the general workforce in terms of demographic change, because they are by construction of the previous generation.

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