Good morning allll!
So this isn’t a Monday morning rant. I promise -:) Train journeys are always something in the morning. Always something to amuse me. Last week, I counted the number of people applying make up enroute work.( I think I’m up to 8 at the moment. ) I’m writing this post on the bus and watching this man LITERALLY ram his tongue down his girlfriends mouth. Most uncomfortable for we the TFL passengers, but mostly for her because people are just staring LOL – Me included. Get a room! Anyway let’s get to it.
Paying the price of education
I came across something rather shocking the other day and thought I’d share it with you guys. Brace yourselves. Being a professor must be the height of any academic career right? It’s like the top top job. I used to work at the Disney Store on Oxford Street. Started off as a sales assistant ( I know, me being nice to customers?! lolllll) but the progress ladder is: Sales Assistant, Senior Cast Member, Manager, Area Manager, District Manager, Head Office. The Head office was everyone’s aim who wanted a long term career at Disney – so many aimed for it. Minus me. (Don’t judge me ooooo ) I liked the Disney Store – especially the discount as I was a Disney freak lmao. Anyway as much as i liked it, long term, I knew it wasn’t for me right from the beginning. I was there part time during uni so I could earn money and have a good reason to go to Selfridges. Shikena.
Anyway now that I have created a mental picture, lets get down to the koko of this post.
As of 2012, there were about 18,510 Proffessors in the Uk. Pretty amazing number huh? Now the shocking part. Out of that number, only 85 are black. That’s right – out of 18 THOUSAND, there is only 85. And what’s worse, there are only 17 female professors amongst them. Please see the articles below for further info.
2. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/black-scholars-still-experience-racism-on-campus/2012154.article Now before one concludes that the university employment field is institutionally racist, let’s examine some of the potential reasons why they are, the way they are.
1. It is true that black people like education – but to what level? In undergrad courses you’ll see so many students of colour. But the problem is once they have read and got the first degree, most will head straight to employment in order to earn a living straight away. Result: more educated people at Undergrad level and going straight into employment. Progressing into academia and becoming a professor almost never becomes an option.
2. There is a fear that entering into a white dominated field is a waste of time. To be honest, it’s not something that you just get into, just like that. As with any long term job, you think about the pros and the cons. A sensible person going into academia would also consider all the factors and ask themselves some harsh questions:
a) Am I good enough? Someone posted a tweet the other day which really got me thinking. Why are we comfortable with having black people in managerial positions, in sport, in entertainment but as soon as it comes to education and them teaching US, it’s a problem? Ok I know twitter is only 160 characters but I just summarised it. However it is true – as soon as it becomes a person of colour in teaching, all eyebrows are raised sky high.
b) Will I be overlooked for promotion? There are many black lectures which I have come across who have the most robust CV compared to Senior Lectures in their departments. They have published tire and have much much more experience than those in slightly higher positions than themselves. Still, they remain in their current position and are overlooked for promotion.
c) If they keep promoting people not as good as me, how much of that can I take?
d) I don’t want to play the race card
Playing the race card is always tricky. Not the best option, but sometimes office politics means you may have to. Employers will always tell you they are an ‘equal opportunities’ employer and want to encourage “diversity”. I’m not so sure the education employment sector reflects this notion currently.
e) I’m a woman – they won’t promote me. This is CLEARLY reflected on the number of female professors which currently stands at 17. I find it incredibly hard to believe that there are only 17 women black professors who are “good” enough for this title. Result: Asking such harsh questions and also answering them can have the unexpected result. Most will probably conclude they aren’t cut out for that kinda life, opt out and go into industry rather than academia. You don’t want to spend half your career angry at the world and its dog for not giving you that promotion you know you deserve.
It’s All About The Money..
3. Financial Implications: This is sort of related to my initial potential reason (sounds like a ryhme lol 😎 ) but lets elaborate further.
Its not cheap to study. And not everyone has rich parents. Lets face it – to get to professor level you would have reaaaaad! This means Undergrad, Masters, Probably a teaching course (we’ll come back to that), tons of publications and tons of research.So, lets take a small trip to Maths class for a second.
Background: These costs calculations are based on the average UK home student living in London AND I have based them on someone going into the law field. Other subject areas like Engineering and Mathematics are practically the same apart from the law school cost at the end. These costs are if you go straight from college to uni with the hope of achieving it all before the age of 30. Yes, you can almost guess my age lol. If it’s an international student for however, please feel free to double or in some cases tripple the home tuition fees. The cost of undergraduate degree right now, including living costs et al:
a) £9,000 × 3 years of UG. Four in some cases – £27,000 b) £4,000 living costs – roughly. ×3 years – £12,000 Total cost for LLB : £39,000
Postgraduate study 1st Stage: Masters. Including living costs et al
c)£7,000 is an average cost. Some Universities will charge more..somewhere loke Oxbridge or LSE would be much more in cost because of the prestige it brings.
d)£4,000 living costs -one year
Total cost for LLM: £11,000
Postgraduate study 2nd stage: Mphil/PhD, including living costs. If you can live with ur parents, for goodness sake, DO SO!!
e) Mphil/ PhD Cost :£4,000 average, ×3 years
N.B Some Universities will charge different fees depending on the subject and again, depending on your status. A friend of mine doing a PhD in business & management as an international student – he is spending £17,500 every year. Soooooo…..!!
f) cost if living is roughly same as previous. £ £4,000 × 3 years Total: 12,000
Total cost for Mphil/PhD : £24,000
GrandTotal : £74,000. And we didn’t even include the cost of food and clothing. Tut, tut, tut.
So, congratulations. If you have had to rely on student loans, you’re owing close to £75,000 before you’re 30! Mehn, the Lord is goooooooooood. Can I get an Amen? If you have worked in between, congratulations, you’ve have cut your debt substantially. If you have had alllll the financial support. Omo, I salute you biko.
This fourth point is the most cruicial and is highly connected to why the number of black professors isn’t high. Come on, that is a lot of money. I never even included teaching courses sef – although sometimes your uni will pay for that. Im currently doing a teaching course to be admitted into the Higher Education Academy which my uni has generously paid for. Also, I didn’t include the cost of law school in Nigeria. As I will highlight below, some people before or after PhD may do the LPC or BPTC. The reasons for this extra qualification are highlighted below. Anyway, sling another £10k there and we’ll call it square. Adding all that cost us still doesn’t explain why there are only 85 black professors. The number is just a disgrace. Period.
Anyway, you can see that cost plays an important role in the goal of professorship. Not everyone has that privilege to spend that much money on a ‘maybe-ill-become- a- professor-whim’. Even after spending that much money on education, there’s still no guarantee on a job let alone professorship. One of my mentors, Miss B is:
a) black woman and
b) currently the only black postdoc in her dept at a very prominent uni.
She’s forever telling me about the race for publishing. You have to continue publishing and publishing to get ahead – even at that, no gurantee. It is very easy to forget that the year of your graduation, many other students in your field will also graduate from other universities. Then, you find yourself competing against x amount of newly awarded PhD holders for one job – maybe two. Its a tough competition and the cost involved in educating oneself could be another reason why there aren’t as many black professors as anticipated. Nonetheless, the number is a disgrace.
Earlier on, I included the cost of law school. But why though you may ask. How do you know you’ll even practice? Why am i paying for a course that I may or may not use? These questions are very correct. Lets bring it down a notch.
The profile of a lecturer is robust. Still using Law as an example, go to any uni lecturers law profile. You’ll see LLB, LLM BL/LPC/PG.DIP/BPTC, PHD, PG (Cert) – the list is endless! Academic “achievement” is important – it’s a marketing tool. It sounds weird but try to look at universities as a business and the students as customers. Paying customers at that. Everything all na packaging. As we say in Lagos, you gats package well. They want to come to a uni where whoever is teaching them knows exactly what they are teaching or is at least qualifed to do so. Many law lectures, will have a lawyer qualification and many may not have practiced. That’s ok because there is no course that you’ll do that you won’t pick something up from. Law school as mentioned above, I learned practical skills from the course itself and whilst in practice. I know the differences between how the text book says it in theory and how it actually happens in court. As I said – it’s still packaging. When you tell your students you’re a barrister, they don’t ask many more questions. “I’m a barrister” is enough assumption that you defo know what you’re talking about!
So anyway these are just some of my observations that I have laid out. The bottom line is this shocking statistic needs to be addressed and we need more black professors!!
Ok, let me order my drink and sip my Caramel Frapachino in peace! I’m going to tell you about my supervisory meeting in my next post…maybe later today.
Have a great one! Fols xx