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Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences

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The BME ‘Awarding Gap’

We aim to create a truly diverse community and increase the numbers of students who progress into academic careers by building a pipeline of talent from undergraduate to senior academic positions

We recognise that as deeply entrenched racialized inequalities are manifest all too clearly in society, so too are they in the makeup of UCL, and academia more broadly. We need not only to extend our research programmes and engage actively in ongoing debates, but to change who creates new knowledge and shapes these debates, accelerating efforts to create greater equity and racial and ethnic diversity within higher academia itself.

As well as confronting the multiple legacies of slavery, colonialism and other forms of racialized hierarchies through the social and historical sciences, the Faculty is acutely aware of the need to improve the diversity of the academic community itself within these disciplines. This continues to be one of the most important strategic priorities for the Faculty.

At present across UK higher education institutions, only 0.7% of professors are Black, compared with 82.5% who are White. At UCL, this figure is 0.7% and 82% respectively[1].

At postgraduate level, merely 3% of full-time, UK domiciled PhD students in their first year are Black.[2] Data also shows that UK domiciled Black students are not under-represented at undergraduate level, but that there is a marked decrease in progression to postgraduate research and subsequently into academic careers.[3]

UCL recognises the challenges around creating a genuinely diverse academic community and increasing the numbers of students who progress into academic careers by creating a pipeline of talent from undergraduate all the way through to senior academic positions. In 2018, we established the Research Opportunities Scholarships[4] for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) postgraduate research degree students. UCL also runs the successful B-MEntor, a cross-institutional mentoring scheme for early career academics and researchers.

The Faculty wants to build on these platforms but move towards a more transformative intervention that will have lasting impact on the diversity of UK social sciences.


[1] Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data 2018/19

[2] Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) 2019.

[3] Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) 2019.