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UK BAME academics less likely to get funding than white researchers

Academics from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to get funding than their white colleagues and on average their grants are more than £100,000 less, according to analysis of UK data.

In a study that looked through data on sex, disability, ethnicity and age from seven research councils recorded between 2014 and 2019, results found that in 2018 and 2019, 79 per cent of applications from lead researchers in the UK came from white applicants and 13 per cent came from ethnic minorities - eight per cent did not disclose their ethnic background.

On average, white applicants were awarded £670,000 while scientists from minority backgrounds were awarded £564,000.

For all years, the analysis found that white applicants applied for higher amounts than their ethnic minority counterparts.

Image credit: The Scientist Magazine

The inequality in the billions of pounds of annual research funding awarded in the UK each year is a particular problem for BAME scientists in the field of climate change, wildlife, and other environmental science, in comparison to their white peers.

To mitigate the problem, scientists have suggested that selection panels should not be able to see the applicant's past record until their application has been looked at and judged on its merit.

Recent research from the University College London (UCL) Institue of Education found that just seven per cent of social science authors were of a BAME background in contrast to a student population with 39 per cent BAME UK-based students.

This latest data comes amid calls to change the curriculum of universities across the country and examine whether a Western/Euro-centric bias has unfairly dominated university and school courses, typically by a small group of voices that are and predominantly white and male.

The campaign for change, sparked by the recent Black Lives Matter protests in response to George Floyd's death at the hands of a white police officer, calls for a broader range of voices and writers in university courses, often referred to as "decolonising the curriculum".

Scientists and those within BAME communities also call for a more proportionate amount of research funding that matches that awarded to their white counterparts.


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