Northern Ireland

Queen's University, Belfast, criticised over gender pay gap

Queen's University, Belfast, gates
Image caption QUB's gender pay gap percentage is reported to be the highest of 24 leading UK universities

Queen's University, Belfast, has been criticised for failing to close the gender pay gap among senior academics.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show QUB's female professors earn almost 15% less on average than their male colleagues.

In 2015-16, female professors at Queen's earned an average of £69,910 compared to £81,708 for male professors, a gap of £11,798.

QUB said it was committed to improving the careers of academic women.

However, according to analysis by the Times Higher Education (THE), it has highest percentage pay gap among the 24 leading UK universities, known as the Russell Group.

'Shocking'

Queen's is holding two meetings with senior staff on 8 May and 11 May to put forward proposals to tackle the problem.

These include some changes to pay scales and mentoring for female professors.

However, the University and Colleges Union (UCU) said these measures will only reduce the pay gap by 2.5%.

In a letter to professors, seen by the BBC, the UCU said it "does not accept that these proposals will satisfactorily close the gender pay gap".

"Nor does it believe that this offer attends the clearly articulated concerns of the female professors, in respect of the long-term pay inequality they have suffered," the union said.

Image caption QUB said it recognises that there is more work to be done to promote gender equality

The UCU also said it had previously warned of a "shocking and profoundly worrying" gender pay gap among professors at the university in 2014.

Then, the pay gap stood at £11,256.

'Action plan'

In a statement in response, QUB said it is "one of the leading institutions in the UK for tackling the unequal representation of women in higher education".

"Queen's recognises that there is more work to be done to promote gender equality, including the gender pay gap, and is taking positive steps to address these issues.

"The University has carried out a Professorial Gender Pay Gap review and is developing a holistic action plan to address the gap."

According to data collected by HESA for 2015-16 on 1555 full-time academic staff at Queen's, women were paid £44,119 on average while men were paid £50,822 - a difference of £6,703.

At Ulster University (UU) meanwhile, the gender pay gap among professors was smaller.

In 2015-16, female professors at UU earned an average of £68,924, compared to £72,241 for male professors.

HESA data for 2015-16 on 1025 full-time academic staff at UU shows women were paid £47,542 on average while men were paid £50,290 - a difference of £2,748.

The gender pay gap and equal pay are two different things.

The former is the difference in average earnings between men and women.

Equal pay, or paying men and women the same amount to do the same job, is a legal requirement.

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