HESA’s latest open data staff release is likely to send shockwaves across the sector. But it shouldn’t.
Opening up much of the old, charged-for, HESA Staff Record gives us a sobering insight into the poor salary and promotions deal women get from HE.
Nothing has changed
On average, in any institution, 2.5 times more men than women were on academic contracts worth more than £60,410 in 2017-18. And, again in any given institution, there were 2.9 times more men than women on a professorial contract.
There’s no need here to rehearse arguments explaining why this is unfair. It should be clear to anyone looking at this graph that this state of affairs is indefensible. Even if you insist on arguing about career breaks and family responsibilities – as if men are not equally able to juggle a career, a family, and caring for relative – these numbers are an embarrassment to the sector.
I’ve plotted a 45 degree angle in pale grey to let you see quite how bad things are as you use the filters to zero in on any aspect of the data. I’ve also included the usual highlighter and group/region filters at the bottom of the graph.
There’s an easier way to examine these trends by institution, should you wish to hold your own employer to account.
There’s surely many more of these to detonate over the coming weeks – HESA has provided data by cost centre as well as by institution, and it is possible to look at salary differential across a range of characteristics – ethnicity, disability, age group. There’s data on contractual types – including zero hour contracts, though the latter is not available by institution. The data, in the main, goes back four years (I’ve only plotted the most recent two above).
Remain and leave
I could easily have spent all day visualising this data, and I am sure I’ll do more in the future. But one other aspect of this release did catch my eye.
I’ve long been fascinated by the rates by which staff enter and leave institutions – both in absolute terms (is a provider growing or shrinking its workforce?) and as an insight into the kind of “churn” that short term contracts, or poor staff morale, can cause.
This is the first time I’ve even seen data like this so I went a bit overboard and built a dashboard (I’d strongly recommend viewing the full screen in another tab, and using a decent-sized monitor).
The main graph is sorted by the overall increase in academic staff numbers minus the decrease for the most recent year (though you can select any year) – with the colours showing full- and part-time staff. Mouse over the graph or use the highlighter to find an institution (you may need to scroll along using the scroll bar at the bottom), and click on it to see further detail on the change over the full four years of data and the total size of the institutional academic workforce in each of those years.
A wider bar on the main graph usually relates to a larger institution, but a wider bar on a small institution indicates a significant level of churn – something that HR managers will already be aware of and concerned about.
Large orange bars show a large number of staff entering or leaving an institution who have a part time contracts – there are a few institutions that have recently taken on a lot of part-time staff. In general, you can see that overall large numbers part-time staff tend to mean a large annual entry and leave rate of part-time staff.
HESA has provided a fascinating table that details what kind of employment staff come from when they enter the sector, and where they go when they leave. We don’t get these by institution or cost centre, but even at a sector level there is a lot to grab our attention. I was struck that nearly as many UK-domiciled academic staff leave the sector entirely as move to another UK HE institution – for early career academics (26-30) the number leaving the sector is substantially larger than those remaining in it.