Chemical engineering named fastest-growing academic field

New release of staff data shows discipline is also one of the most reliant on non-UK nationality staff

HESA’s new release of staff data for 2017/18 reveals chemical engineering as the academic field with the fastest-growing number of academic staff, and one of the disciplines most reliant on non-UK nationality staff.

Detailed data on staff by cost centre – an accounting concept used as a proxy for academic departments – show the disciplines gaining and losing academic staff. In the four years since 2014/15 the numbers of academic staff working in chemical engineering departments has increased by 20%. Other cost centres with significant growth in academic staff numbers were politics and international studies (up 18%) and psychology and behavioural sciences (up 16%).

Overall academic staff numbers at UK higher education providers increased by 7% over the four years covered by the data release. Over the same period cost centres seeing a fall in academic staff numbers included health and community studies (down 15%), catering and hospitality management (down 14%), and continuing education (down 12%).

The cost centre statistics also reveal differences in the personal characteristics of academic staff. Less than half of academic staff in chemical engineering and modern languages in 2017/18 were of UK nationality compared to over 90% of academic staff in the nursing and allied health professions and 69% of academic staff overall.

Nursing and allied health professions was also the cost centre with highest proportion of female academic staff (75%). The cost centre with the lowest proportion of female academics was electrical, electronic and computer engineering at only 15%. Across all disciplines 46% of academic staff in 2017/18 were female.

The statistics come from Higher Education Staff Data, HESA’s open data release of staff statistics for the 2017/18 academic year.

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