Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE): Policy Network event

There has been increasing attention paid to the “glass ceiling” effect for women’s advancement in the workplace in recent times, especially to the gender pay gap. Yet just as significantly, the stark truth is that severe racial inequality in British universities persists, leading to talk of a “concrete ceiling” for black and minority ethnic people (BME) in higher education. According to the Equality Challenge Unit’s report (2015), BME staff are half as likely as whites to hold one of those top roles. The Higher Education Funding Council in England (HEFCE, 2017) reports that only 3 per cent of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (University Presidents) are BME. These proportions are even lower when ‘international’ staff are excluded.

The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) (now Advance HE) has been tackling this issue head-on. For some years Advance HE has run a leadership programme (“Diversifying Leadership”) designed to support and help people of BME backgrounds to obtain more senior leadership positions.

Advance HE commissioned a two-year longitudinal study, ‘Cracking the concrete ceiling: Tracking the impact of the Diversifying Leadership programme on participants and institutions’ (, to explore the impact of this programme, aiming to provide a better understanding of how BME people experience working and gaining leadership in British higher education, and also how their own social and institutional contexts play a part.  Several key messages are emerging from this study about the experiences of BME staff.

In this SRHE Policy Network event, we will present key findings from the Advance HE commissioned study and discuss further by taking intersectional approaches to diversifying leadership and considering broader future implications for HE.

ECU. 2015. Equality in Higher Education: Statistical Report 2015. London: Equality Challenge Unit.

HEFCE. 2017. The Higher Education Workforce. workforce/equality/

SRHE Policy Network Convenors: Dr. Terri Kim; Prof. Carole Leathwood; Dr. Karen Smith



1.00-1.45                       Registration and networking lunch

1.00-1.45                     Presentation on the LFHE-commissioned study:

“Cracking the concrete ceiling”: Tracking the impact of the Diversifying Leadership programme on participants and institutions’

Prof. Uduak Archibong, University of Bradford, UK, Dr. Terri Kim, University of East London

1.45 -2.00                    Q&A

2.00-2.10                     Comfort Break

2.10.-3.00                    Panel Discussion

The state of EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) policy implementation in UK HEIs & Leadership

Racialised (unconscious) biases – intersectional approaches

Gary Locke, AdvanceHE, Dom Jackson-Cole, SOAS, University of London

3.00-3.15                     Q&A / Discussion

3.15 – 3.45                  Small Group discussion

3.45 -4.00                    Feedback to panellists; Concluding remarks

4.00                             close


Speaker Bios

Uduak Archibong MBE is Professor of Diversity at the University of Bradford, UK, where she directs the Centre for Inclusion and Diversity and provides strategic oversight for equality, diversity and inclusion across the institution. Uduak has been recognised  for her services to Higher Education and Equality and was awarded MBE in the 2015 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. She is recognised as a thought leader in inclusion and diversity and currently leading in setting agenda to drive research, learning and knowledge exchange activities internationally. Uduak’s academic and professional work has major impacts locally, nationally and globally. Key among these impacts is that the body of her research work has provided a robust understanding of the challenges of applying diversity interventions in enhancing workforce diversity and inclusive service delivery.  She has recently led to completion a major multi-million EC funded project, GENOVATE, across 7 European Universities and is a co-investigator in a multi-million Horizon 2020 project, RRING, along with 22 international partners in Europe, China, Africa, India, Japan, North America and South America. She also participated in the ‘Cracking the Concrete Ceiling’ study, which seeks to explore the impact of the ‘Diversifying Leadership’ programme of the Advance HE.  A multi-award winner, Uduak has featured in the Northern Power Women List in 2019;  honoured as a top 100 Nigerians in the UK to receive a Centenary Award, a top 50 Inspirational Women in UK Healthcare, and a Distinguished Nurse Leader in 21st century in Nigeria. 

Gary Loke is the Director of Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery at Advance HE, a UK higher education sector organisation which aims to advance the professional practice of higher education, in the UK and globally. Prior to his current role, he was Deputy Chief Executive at Equality Challenge Unit.  Gary has previously worked for an older persons’ charity on age-related policy issues in health and social care and for a rural race equality organisation. He was a Visiting Research Associate at the Forum for Research into Equality and Diversity, School of Law, University of Chester, and is currently a member of the gender equality commission of the Swiss National Science Foundation. He has most recently contributed to Arday, J. and Mirza, H. S. ‘Dismantling Race in Higher Education: Racism, Whiteness and Decolonising the Academy‘ (2018).

Dom Jackson-Cole has over 10 years of practitioner, policy maker and researcher experience in the UK higher education sector, with expertise in the fields of Widening Participation and Equality and Diversity. He is currently completing his PhD concentrating on ‘race’ and racism in postgraduate STEM education in England, works as Equality and Diversity Advisor at SOAS, University of London, as well as running his private consultancy. Prior to joining SOAS, Dom obtained a master’s degree in education from the University of Cambridge, worked at HEFCE and at Kingston University, who are the sector leader in the efforts to close the racialised attainment/awarding gap.Terri Kim (PhD London) is Reader in Comparative Higher Education at UEL, Honorary Senior Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Education, and a Principal Fellow of Higher Education Academy (PFHEA). Previously she was a visiting scholar in International Relations at LSE; Brain Korea 21 Contract Professor at Seoul National University; visiting scholar at the Collège de France in Paris and Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Monash University in Melbourne. She is a co-convenor of the SRHE Policy Network; and a member of four major international journals: Comparative Education; Intercultural Education; British Journal of Educational Studies (BJES); and Policy Reviews in Higher Education. She has published one book and 45 articles internationally in the field of comparative higher education. Her research interests are in the relations of territory, mobility, knowledge and identity; empires, ethnonationalism, cosmopolitanism, coloniality, interculturality; citizenship and the issues of equity and diversity, statelessness and human rights; social history of universities, varieties of academic capitalism, state-university relations, university governance, the academic profession and leadership in HE.  Her long-term and ongoing research has been on transnational academic mobility/migration, knowledge creation and identity capital.  She has co-led a Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE)-funded research project on ‘Tracking Impact of BME Leadership Development Programme’ as a two-year longitudinal study (2017-18).

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