For Working-Class Academics

by Chris Armstrong on November 14, 2022

Last week I was talking to a new academic acquaintance, when ‘that thing’ happened: we worked out that we’d both grown up on council estates, within working-class, non-university-attending families.[i] We smiled our smile of mutual recognition, and began swapping stories about how we’d navigated the treacherous territory to where we are now. It’s something that has happened to me a number of times before – though not an especially large number of times, actually, considering that I’m two decades into my career.

That’s not altogether surprising. A survey by the (UK) Universities and Colleges Union this month showed that most working class academics feel their class has affected their career progression, and nearly half believe it affects initial recruitment into the profession. The Social Mobility Foundation has just reported that working class academics earn £5,800 less per year in the UK than their middle-class peers. A third have personally felt discrimination based on their accent.
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