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UCL study finds white Eurocentric males overrepresented in uni reading lists

Female, black and minority ethnicity academics were underrepresented on reading lists


A study by UCL Institute of Education has found that university reading lists are not representative of their student bodies because they are overwhelmingly dominated by white European men.

This comes as debates rage about whether school and university curriculum's should be decolonised to introduce more inclusive and diverse programmes.

The research, published in Higher Education, looked at 290 papers in two university readings lists and found that only seven per cent of social science authors were black and minority ethnic (BAME). In contrast, 39 per cent of the UK student population is BAME, a shockingly bad underrepresentation.

50 per cent of reviewed social science authors were female, which may seem good – until you realise 66 per cent of students are female.

In science, 70 per cent of reviewed authors were male. Over 60 per cent of the student population is female.

99 per cent of reviewed authors in social science were affiliated to North American, European, or Australian universities, compared with a postgraduate population of 67 per cent overseas students (with 69 per cent of these from non-European countries).

Its unacceptable how unrepresentative reading lists are: gives us even less motivation to do the reading…

Dr Karen Schuan Bird, research co-author, said that the study shows that "higher education institutions and agencies need to develop coherent and consistent strategies which can move the whole sector towards programmes of study which are both inclusive and more diverse.

"Universities also need to engage in discussions about what a diverse/inclusive/decolonised reading list actual looks like."

In August, UCL graduates complained there wasn't enough Africa in a Master's course in African studies. In an open letter they criticised the 'Eurocentric' course content.