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Third year of Diversity Data published


The third annual update of the Research Councils diversity data has been published today. Our ambition is for the Research Councils to be recognised as a leader in equality and diversity in the research community, working with partners throughout the sector.

In publishing data on gender, age, disability status and ethnicity and monitoring the data at a more in-depth level we hope to identify specific areas of concern for action. It forms part of our action plan to tackle equality, diversity and inclusion issues in research and drive cultural change in the research sector.

One area of the action plan that we focused on this year is the socio-economic background of students. We commissioned Professor Paul Wakeling, University of York to explore and make recommendations on how we could conceptualise and measure socio-economic diversity.

The Measuring Doctoral Student Diversity report found:

  • it is important to recognise that socio-economic background is a complex
  • graduates’ socio-economic position can change over time
  • the amount of support graduates receive from their parents changes over time
  • there is little research into background of postgraduate research students. 

In response to the findings, Hilary Reynolds, Executive Director, Research Councils UK commented, “We welcome the findings and recommendations of the Wakeling report. In response, as a first step, Research Councils UK will seek to work collaboratively with other sector bodies to test the feasibility of collecting data on funded students and applicants. Once the practicality of collecting the data has been established it is proposed that a sample of data is collected and analysis framework is developed.”

Commenting as the Chief Executive Champion for the Equality and Diversity Strategy, Professor Andrew Thompson said: “I welcome the publication of our diversity data more generally. Having good data over time is an important foundation to understanding what actions can achieve most effect to help drive diversity and inclusion through everything that the Research Councils do - as funders, employers and as a major part of the HE sector and community. This work is providing an excellent base on which UK Research and Innovation when it is established in April 2018 will be able to build.”

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Further information

RCUK Communications Team
Tel: 01793 444067 or email:

Notes to editors

  1. The Third annual publication of Research Councils’ data on applications and awards can be found here.

  2. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils. Our collective ambition is to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. The Research Councils are central to delivering research and innovation for economic growth and societal impact. Together, we invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow’s challenges today. Our investments create new knowledge through: funding research excellence; responding to society’s challenges; developing skills, leadership and infrastructure; and leading the UK’s research direction. We drive innovation through: creating environments and brokering partnerships; co-delivering research and innovation with over 2,500 businesses, 1,000 of which are SMEs; and providing intelligence for policy making. Find out more about our work at

    The seven UK Research Councils are:

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