Written Evidence Submitted by Queen Mary University of London

(DIV0099)

 

 

 

 

Dear Committee

I would like to thank you for launching this important inquiry into Diversity in STEM. I represent Queen Mary University of London – a leading research-intensive university with a clear aim to be the most inclusive university of its kind anywhere. We have a deep commitment to harness and elevate the best talent regardless of background, and demonstrate that social inclusion and academic success are not mutually exclusive. This core belief is at the heart of our recently launched strategy 2030. We are a community of 32,000 students and 4,500 staff drawn from over 170 nationalities. 25,000 of our students are based on our London Campus and the figures presented in this submission relate to this cohort. Over 90% of our home, undergraduate students are from State schools, 75% are from BAME backgrounds, 51% are the first in their families to enter higher education and 24% are from families where the taxable income is less than £10k/year. The Times Good University Guide 2021 recognised Queen Mary as the most inclusive Russell Group University, and last year the Sutton Trust named us as the best university for social mobility.

 

Our Faculties of Science and Engineering and Medicine and Dentistry offer a wide range of STEM provision. The Faculty of Science and Engineering consists of five disciplinary Schools including Mathematical Sciences, Physical and Chemical Sciences, Engineering and Materials, Biological and Behavioural Sciences, and Electronic Engineering and Computer Science.  In Medicine and Dentistry offers degrees in Neuroscience and Pharmacology in addition to Medicine and Dentistry. Across these two STEM faculties we have 8,170 undergraduate students, 1,179 postgraduate taught students, 862 postgraduate research students and 856 FTE of academic staff, using the HESA T&R and T only classification.

 

We would like to submit evidence to the inquiry as we recognise the problems of diversifying STEM are a complex mix of causes and potential solutions. We have been undertaking several initiatives to better understand and address these in our particular context. Our approach is to be open, transparent, and experimental where appropriate, in trialling new ways of delivering our vision to ‘open the doors of opportunity’. Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to outline some of the initiatives we are engaged in, to disseminate what we have learned so far, and to participate in the wider public debate.

 

What we observe:


Table 1 UG, PGT and PGR student population data for students studying STEM subjects and having ‘home fees’ status. All counts as of 1/12/2021. *The proportion of females in STEM subjects including or excluding medicine and dentistry. From ONS Regional population estimates 2020; and 2011 census. ††From ONS 2011 census data of London resident adults aged 16-64 with declared DDA disability.

Home fee students

 

 

% Female*

% Disability

declared

% Parents w/o

H.E. qualification

% BAME

% Black

(incl. med.)

(excl. med.)

STEM UG

78

12

48

43

12

55

STEM PGT

61

14

52

30

17

STEM PGR

35

3

49

36

19

London

40

13

50

15††

This table summarises proportion of students within each of the listed demographics. Care should be taken in interpreting this data which hides large variations between subject areas within STEM. The last row shows data for the London area and is a benchmark for comparison. The broad conclusions which can be drawn show that:

  1. The ethnic diversity of the student population changes dramatically between the UG/PGT and PGR populations.
  2. The Black population of UG students is representative of the London ethnic profile, however at PGR level this group in particular is highly underrepresented.
  3. The fraction of women taking up PhD studies in STEM subjects excluding medicine falls as the level of study increases.
  4. Those who declare a disability on application are underrepresented at UG level compared to the adult (16-64 year old) London population. However, this fraction increases at PGR level, and mostly from those with learning disabilities or mental health needs.
  5. Looking at the UG students over the last 4 years, the BAME STEM population has risen from 72% to 78%; the Black population from 9% to 12%; the disabled population has been steadily falling from 16% to 12%, and the proportion of women has remained constant.
  6. Looking at the PGR students over the last 4 years, the BAME population has risen from 30% to 35%; the Black population has increased slightly from 1% to 3%; the disabled population has been constant at 13% but rose 19% in the last year, and the proportion of women has remained constant.

Some of these observations are not new and have been widely reported, others are particular to our institution.

 

What we have learned:

 

What we are doing

 

 

Recommendations

I would like to thank you again for your consideration of this important matter. If you would like any further information or clarification, I would be delighted to assist.

 

 

(February 2022)