Gender pay gap at universities revealed

Over the past year, universities have been publishing their gender pays gaps, and the final results are in… where does your university rank?

university gender pay gap

Credit: David Iliff – Wikimedia

For the first time in history, all universities in the UK have been legally required to record their gender pay gaps – and the results make for interesting reading.

Data shows that all but three universities pay men more than women, and the majority of universities recorded gender pay gaps in the double figures, with some reaching as high as 37.4%.

The data was published as part of a wider government initiative, stating that all companies with over 250 employees must record their gender pay gaps.

Universities have had a year to report the figures, since the government announced the move last April, but many left it until the final weeks and days before the midnight deadline on 4th April 2018.

We’ve pulled together the data from all UK universities which reported, so you can search the gender pay gap at your institution.

What’s the gender pay gap at your university?

gender pay gap at universities

The results show that York St John University and Harper Adams University have come out worst, each having a gender pay gap of 37.4%.

Other unis to feature in the top 10 worst offenders list include the University of East Anglia, the Royal Veterinary College and the University of Hull, with pay gaps ranging from 27.8% – 34%.

The only Russell Group university to appear in this top 10 is Durham University, with a pay gap of 29.3%, while University College London was the Russell Group with the smallest gender pay gap at 8.9%.

Based on these reports, the average gender pay gap across all universities stands at 18.4%, almost double the national average of 9.7%.

The only universities who pay women more than men are The University of Law and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, with gender pay gaps of -2.5% and -1.9% respectively.

University gender pay gaps ranked

Use our table to to see what the gender pay gap at your university is, and how it compares to the rest.

University Median Hourly Pay Gap (%) Women in lower quartile pay (%) Women in top quartile pay (%)
Average 16 65 44
York St John University 37.4 69 55
Harper Adams University 37.4 82.6 37.9
The University of Buckingham 37 55 44
Teesside University 34 68 49
Royal Holloway College and Bedford New College 33.8 72 38
Royal Veterinary College 31.8 78.4 48.4
University Of East Anglia 30.2 68.3 48.1
Durham University 29.3 65.8 36.4
University Of Keele 28 66.1 46.4
University of Hull 27.8 72.7 39.8
Loughborough University 27.7 69.6 33.3
University of Plymouth 27.7 67.6 42.8
Newman University 27.5 76.2 47.2
Falmouth University 27.5 73.4 41.9
University of Wolverhampton 26.8 75 48
Lancaster University 26.5 69.7 30.5
Aston University 25.8 65.2 34.9
Nottingham Trent University 24.5 66 47
Bath Spa University 23.7 71 44
Brunel University London 23.6 62.9 37.7
University of Warwick 23.4 67 34
University of Birmingham 23.3 61.1 37.3
University of Portsmouth 23.3 61.3 42
London Business School 23.3 67.9 41.5
Bournemouth University 23.3 68.6 43
Cranfield University 23.2 67.1 22.4
De Montfort University 23 67 42
University of Leicester 22.7 64.9 38.6
University of Northumbria at Newcastle 22.7 67.3 42.4
University of Winchester 22 70.7 46.5
Liverpool John Moores University 21.9 61 42
University of Bradford 21.1 64.5 43.2
The University of Salford 21 62 41
St Mary’s University, Twickenham 20.9 72 48
The University of Reading 20.9 62.2 42.3
University of Sunderland 20.9 68 47
University of Nottingham 20.7 67.2 37.9
Royal Academy of Music 20 60 30
Cardiff University 19.7 67 39
Newcastle University 19.5 67 37
University of Stirling 19.3 68.8 48.4
Canterbury Christ Church University 19.3 69 51
University of Hertfordshire 19 69 51
University Of Liverpool 19 71.6 38.2
University of Essex 18.6 67.2 38
University of Chester 18.5 72 52
University Of Gloucestershire 18.5 76.3 42.3
Arts University Bournemouth 18.1 70.2 55.4
University Of Bath 17.9 54.5 36.5
University of York 17.7 63 38
University of Greenwich 17.6 59.4 42.1
The University Of Chichester 17.4 65.5 41.2
University of Southampton 17.4 67.5 38
University of Exeter 17.2 66 42
Edge Hill University 17 70.4 62.7
The University of Brighton 16.3 64.3 46.3
Sheffield Hallam University 16.2 69.9 49.7
University Of Bristol 16.2 69 41
University of Huddersfield 16.2 71.4 41
City, University Of London 16.2 57 31
Liverpool Hope University 16 64 46
University of Leeds 15.8 65.2 38.7
University of Sussex 15.3 68 35
The University of Northampton 15.3 71.6 50.8
Staffordshire University 15 70.6 48.8
University Of Cambridge 15 61.4 36.1
Queen Mary University of London 15 64.2 35.7
London School Of Economics & Political Science 14.9 56 34
The Open University 14.9 69 51
King’s College London 14.3 66 39
University Of Suffolk 14.1 73.4 49.5
University of Oxford 13.7 65.1 37.2
Southampton Solent University 13.7 54.6 36.3
Coventry University 13.7 71 42
University of Bedfordshire 13.7 68.6 54
Oxford Brookes University 13.7 67.4 51.3
University of Surrey 13.7 56 44
University Of Derby 13.5 67 50
The University Of Manchester 13.1 60 39.4
St George’s, University of London 12.8 69 41.3
Bishop Grosseteste University 12.5 73.4 64.2
Anglia Ruskin University 11.9 62 51
London Metropolitan University 11.5 54 43
Leeds Trinity University 11.5 66.2 53.7
Norwich University of the Arts 11.4 56.6 39
University of Sheffield 11.1 65.1 41.3
University of Worcester 11 65.6 64.1
University of the West of England 11 67 48
University of London 10.9 63 42
Buckinghamshire New University 10.8 74 47
University of Bolton 10.8 64.7 39.5
University Of Kent 9.8 60.3 43.3
School Of Oriental And African Studies 9.6 62.1 44.1
Imperial College London 9.4 49.1 29.9
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine 9.4 71.8 46.7
Birmingham City University 9.2 66 43
University College London (UCL) 8.9 64 37
University of Central Lancashire 8.4 62.8 48.4
Leeds Beckett University 8.4 61.2 41.5
University for the Creative Arts 8.4 71 50
The University Of Cumbria 8 73.2 58.1
Middlesex University 7.5 61.1 46.1
Goldsmiths, University of London 7.5 56 48
University of the Arts, London 7.1 62.3 51.1
The University of Lincoln 7.1 70 38
Manchester Metropolitan University 6 62.3 51.7
Leeds Arts University 5.7 60.3 52.9
BPP University 5.5 59.8 55.9
London South Bank University 5.4 62 51
Kingston University 5.4 59 46.5
Roehampton University 5.2 62 58
Birkbeck College, University of London 5.2 55.8 46.9
University of East London 5.1 66 47
The University Of Westminster 5.1 65.9 48.4
Regent’s University London 4.8 52.8 44.1
University of West London 2.7 59.7 48.6
University Of St Mark & St John 0.1 63 61
Royal Agricultural University 0 42 33.8
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama -1.9 67 64.4
The University of Law -2.5 71.4 63.9

Only universities in England were required to report their gender pay gaps under the new regulations. Institutions in Scotland and Wales already report on this to their separate devolved governments, and the majority of non-English unis do not feature in this list.

What actually is the gender pay gap?

big gender pay gap

Credit: Álvaro Millán – Flickr

It’s important not to confuse the gender pay gap with equal pay.

Equal pay is paying a man and woman the same amount of money for doing the same job – this has been a legal requirement since 1970.

The gender pay gap is the difference between what men and women earn in an organisation or society as a whole.

A range of different factors contribute to this, including the different types of work men and women do, the seniority of roles, the difference between full-time and part-time work, attitudes to maternity leave and much more.

If you want more information about exactly what the gender pay gap is and what causes it, head on over to our complete gender pay gap guide.

Why does the gender pay gap exist?

gender pay gap UK

Well that’s the big question at the heart of this issue.

One reason organisations often give for the gender pay gap is that they employ more men in senior, high-paid positions, while they employ more women in low-paid roles, such as in cleaning or administration.

Every university reported a higher proportion of women in their lower paid quartile of workers, but even those universities with more women than men in their top quartile still had gender pay gaps.

In the case of York St John University, 55% of employees in their top quartile are women, yet they still have the highest gender pay gap.

However, institutions with the smallest gender imbalance in their top tier of staff also tended to have the smallest pay gaps.

The Russell Group universities reported an average gender pay gap of 16.7%, suggesting that research-intensive universities have a particular problem with gender inequality.

However, the amount of women in senior positions is just one contributing factor to the gender pay gap problem.

Discrimination, attitudes towards parental leave and caring responsibilities are a few other reasons cited as contributing to the issue.

Other pay gaps

It’s also important to remember that the gender pay gap isn’t the only one that exists, and it certainly isn’t the worst.

BME and disabled workers also face serious pay gaps, and while recording the gender pay gap is a great initiative, it needs to be extended to include other social groups if we’re to achieve true equality in the workplace.

How is it recorded?

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The gender pay gap can be recorded in a couple of different ways, which is why you might see variations of official figures. This is because sometimes it’s reported as the mean average, and sometimes as the median average. So, what’s the difference?


The median is recorded by sorting all female employees from lowest to highest paid, and selecting the employee directly in the middle as the average. The difference between that employee’s salary, and the equivalent male’s salary, becomes the gender pay gap.


The mean is recorded by adding up the wages of all employees, and then dividing that figure by the number of employees. Again, the difference between the male equivalent becomes the pay gap. This method can skew the results, however, if there is a small group of people in very well or poorly paid positions.

As a result, the median is often considered a more accurate representation of the gender pay gap, and that’s why we’ve used it here.

The numbers given represent a percentage of men’s income. So for example, if the average gender pay gap at UK universities is 18.4%, that means women earn 81.6p for every £1 a man earns.

What is being done about it?

Although all universities were legally required to report their gender pay gap data, providing a comment or explaining what they were doing to tackle it was optional.

That said, a number of universities have issued statements addressing the issue.

A spokesperson for York St John University, which has the joint highest gender pay gap out of all universities, defended their figures.

Over a fifth of those included in our figures are paid student ambassadors, who support the university at open days and events to broaden their work experience.

Three quarters of this casual workforce is female (reflecting our wider student body) and that has significantly affected our median gender pay gap. Without this casual workforce of ambassadors our median gap would be 18.6 per cent.

The Vice Chancellor at Harper Adams University, an institution which specialises in agricultural and rural disciplines, also explained why the university has the highest gender pay gap.

The gender pay gap reporting method does not take account of historical issues of gender balance in some employment sectors.

This has clearly impacted on our figures this year, where the role we play in providing employment in our local economy for a wide range of staff, including many in agricultural roles, also needs to be taken into account.

Interestingly, this is not an issue faced by the Royal Agricultural University, which recorded a gender pay gap of 0%.

Durham University fared the worst out of all the Russell Groups, and their Vice Chancellor, Stuart Corbridge, stated the university’s commitment to tackling the issue.

We recognise that the gender pay gap is a serious issue for Durham University, as it is for society as a whole and the higher education sector in particular.

We are committed to addressing it through our comprehensive action plan, approved by the University Executive Committee and University Council.

Clearly the government hopes that by making the data public, organisations will be encouraged to take steps to rectify the situation and improve their standing.

Some universities have already stated plans of action, such as the London Business School. LBS is taking measures to increase the number of women in tenure positions and has created a ‘family-friendly task force’.

However, it remains to be seen what direct action will actually be taken in most cases.

How do universities compare to other sectors?

Oxford Univeristy college

Credit: David Iliff – Flickr

When looking at the full results of the survey, the education sector’s median pay gap ranks the third worst out of all industries.

While the university pay gap averages out at 18.4%, the education sector as a whole has a pay gap of 19.5%, which ranks just behind the worst offenders in the country.

The sector comes in third behind construction (24.8%) and finance and insurance (22.1%).

Some of the sectors with the lowest gender pay gaps included accommodation and food services (1%), health and social work (1.6%) and administration and support services (6.7%).

What do you think universities should do to tackle the gender pay gap? Let us know in the comments!