Durham shows worst gender pay gap of Russell Group universities in England

Durham University has the worst gender pay gap of any Russell Group university in England, figures show.

Six universities in the prestigious group have a median gender wage gap higher than the national average of 18.4%, with Durham topping the table at 29.3%.

It means that on average for every £1 men earn at the university, which is considered one of the best in country, women earn 71p.

All of the English Russell Group universities have pay gaps in favour of men.

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Durham University Vice-Chancellor Stuart Corbridge said: "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."

On its website, the university said its pay gap is not reflective of an equal pay issue, adding it pays men and women doing the same job the same wage.

Warwick is the Russell Group university with the second highest gender pay gap, at 23.4%, followed by Birmingham, at 23.3%.

The figures come after the deadline passed on Wednesday for all companies and public bodies with 250 employees or more to submit their gender pay details to the Government.

Of all higher education organisations in England, 124 of 133 have reported their figures. It may be the case that the nine smaller colleges and universities who have not reported have less than 250 employees.

Overall, Harper Adams University in Shropshire and York St John University are tied as having the worst gender pay gap, each paying women 37.4% less than men on average.

The University of Buckingham, which is a private institution, has the next highest, at 37.0%.

Vice-Chancellor at Harper Adams, which specialises in the agricultural and rural sectors, Dr David Llewellyn, said: "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."

A spokesman for York St John said: "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%."

The best Russell Group university is University College London, which has a gender pay gap of 8.9%.

A spokesman from the Russell Group said: "Our universities are all fully committed to promoting equality and diversity, and addressing the gender pay gap is a high priority. One of the biggest challenges is the under-representation of women in senior levels and our members are taking targeted action to address this.

"Russell Group universities have made steady progress in increasing the number of female professorships in recent years...however, we recognise there is more to do and our members are united in their determination to tackle this long-standing issue."

Overall, only the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama has a pay gap in favour of women, paying them 1.9% more than male staff on average.

Three higher education establishments have no gender pay gap, meaning that of all of those to report, 97% pay men more than women on average.