University of Exeter criticised for gender pay-gap

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The University of Exeter has been ranked 30th in the UK in a league table of the top UK universities for gender pay inequality amongst academic staff, it has been revealed.

The data, released in a report by the University and College Union (UCU) to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March, disclosed that on average, male academic staff at the University of Exeter earn £8,361 per year more than their female counterparts. This means that the average female academic at Exeter earns just 83.3 per cent of the salary of a male academic over the course of a year.

However, when the ratio of male to female professors and career level were taken into account in the rankings, Exeter performed more favourably, placing as the 64th highest Higher Education institution for gender-pay differences.

The report, entitled, ‘Holding down women’s pay’, outlines the UCU’s intention to work with sector leaders to close the gender pay-gap in Further and Higher Education, and states that “It is not good enough for sector leaders, in either Further or Higher Education to say that tackling the problem is too complicated.”

“Our colleges and universities promote equality as a core value, yet scratch beneath the surface and you find a sector bedevilled by shameful levels of inequality,” it continues, “If sector leaders adopt a clear policy position that the gap must be closed, the UCU will work them to achieve this objective.”

Speaking about the findings, a University spokesperson said: “The University of Exeter values its many talented female members of staff. The UCU report is misleading in that it claims to highlight that women are paid less for doing the same job. The data on which they have based their calculation does not compare work of equal value, but instead takes an average across a range of pay grades.

“Our own analysis, based on 2016 figures, shows a far smaller pay gap across each pay grade, and one that has closed since 2013/14, but which we are working hard to redress. We recognise that, in line with the national picture, women are underrepresented in the more senior academic roles and we are taking proactive steps to encourage and facilitate career progression.”

Another report, this time by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, released in January 2016 found that just 18.2 per cent of Exeter Professors were female, nearly five per cent less than the UK total.

Nationally in 132 of the 203 Further and Higher Education institutions investigated by the UCU report, men were paid on average £1000 more than women. In Higher Education, 154 institutions paid women less than men. The worst institution for pay of academic staff was The University of the Highlands and Islands, which had an average salary gap of £18,637 a year between men and women.

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