Our members count, UNISON tells universities

Official statistics body to stop collecting data on support staff, making them invisible

A hand picks a human figure from a collection, half of which are blanked out

Make sure our members count, UNISON is demanding, after the body that published data on the university workforces announced that it won’t collect information on professional, administrative and operational workers in England in future.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency says it has stopped collecting data on support staff, rendering them invisible, while only academic staff and higher grades on non-teaching staff will be counted.

The HESA publishes data showing the number of staff in each university by broad occupational group and also by nationality and gender, ethnicity and age. It’s last figures, published on 23 January, showed that there are 222,885 non-academic staff in the UK’s universities and 217,065 academic staff.

But information on the larger group will be harder to find in future.

UNISON has been campaigning for the sector to continue to collect data on the entire higher education workforce.

“Surely the government, employers and sector agencies need to know exactly how many staff work in our universities,” says the union’s head of higher education, Ruth Levin.

“How can evidence based, strategic decisions be made about the workforce if we don’t even know the numbers of staff working in universities?

“The sector has huge challenges to eliminate the gender pay gap, and to ensure that there are the same job and progression opportunities for Black and minority ethnic staff.

“Not collecting this data will set the sector back and could adversely affect policy decisions,” she warned.

Last of its kind? January 2020 workforce data from HESA