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HE sector gender pay gap falls faster than in public sector and UK overall

The gender pay gap in higher education continues to narrow with a significant fall in percentage points for all employees as it dropped from 16.2% in 2014-15 to 13.7% in 2015-16, according to the latest HESA data (1). For academic employees the gender pay gap has fallen from 14.6% to 11.1% in the four years from 2011-12 to 2015-16.

The gender pay gap in the HE sector has fallen faster than in the economy as a whole in the past five years, and this includes the public sector and the wider education sector. According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the sector gender pay gap has fallen 7.3 percentage points since 2011 compared to a 2.1 percentage point drop across the whole economy and a 1.1 percentage fall in the public sector (2).

Following successful joint working with trade unions in 2015, UCEA has committed to producing an annual set of sector level benchmark figures based on official data from HESA and the ONS. These benchmark figures are publicly available via an interactive presentation that covers over a decade of gender pay gap data by staff category and job level alongside comparisons with other industries and professions. These benchmarks will be beneficial for universities and HE colleges as they prepare for their first mandatory gender pay gap reports in April 2018.

Helen Fairfoul, Chief Executive of UCEA, said:

“This is very good news. Both the continuing downward trajectory and the pace that higher education institutions are achieving in addressing the gender pay gap is evidence of serious efforts bearing fruit. All our member institutions use job evaluation to ensure equal pay for work of equal value. However, we know that institutions recognise there's more work to do and UCEA will continue to support this."



(1) Based on median earnings and excluding clinical academics paid on NHS pay scales. The pay gap for all employees based on the mean also fell from 17.7% to 17.2%.

(2)  The median gender pay gap for all employees in the HE sector based on the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings data fell from 22.1% in April 2011 to 14.8% in April 2016.

Follow this link to the tableau presentation

The original data report published by New JNCHES and supported by sector trade unions is available on this page of the UCEA website.

The sector gender pay gaps, based on the median, recorded by HESA (13.7%) and the ONS (14.8%) differ due to different methodologies and record dates. HESA records basic salary only while the ONS looks at total earnings excluding overtime. HESA data is as at 31 July 2016 while ONS data is as at April 2016. HESA data excludes clinical academics on NHS pay scales while ONS includes these staff.

UCEA’s ‘Examining the gender pay gap in Higher Education’ infographic uses information and data from the sector-level reports produced in 2016 and 2015 as a result of joint work between UCEA and HE trade unions. The new infographics seek to explain and examine gender pay gap issues in HE with key questions and images and data to respond accordingly. These infographics are also available as individual jpeg attachments on the UCEA website.

For further information: Please contact Andy Fryer, Head of Communications and Membership ( or Marc Whittaker, Communications and Events Manager ( Call 020 7383 2444.