21 September, 2023 | by Rushi P

In early 2015, the newly formed Diversity in the Discipline Working Group at SCUDD gave itself the task to explore ways in which we might map and address levels of diversity within member Departments, looking – among other markers of self-identity – at gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, class, religion, age, health and (dis)ability. With that objective in mind, the group created a brief survey, which it circulated among staff and students of member departments.

We received 954 responses to our survey: 648 students (537 UG + 33 MA/MFA + 78 PhD/research), and 296 staff (265 academic + 31 tech/support). This corresponds to 3% of the total number of drama students nationally (including non-SCUDD organisations); a 5.3% representation of total PG students; and a 2.7% of UG students, based on HESA data; and 21% of SCUDD departmental academic staff, based on numbers raised by SCUDD.[1] The sample size of support and technical staff responding was not large enough to provide any statistically significant data.[2]

Below, we present a summary of key findings and key recommendations, based on the results of the survey itself and on further work the group has undertaken, including consulting with members of the SCUDD community who have a particular interest and expertise in matters of diversity. A full report is also available for download below.

It is very much our understanding and desire that these findings and recommendations be part of an ongoing process of increasing diversity in our member departments. We hope the Standing Conference will find the information contained in this document useful in moving forward the conversation, and generating action on this important topic. If you wish to make any comments or suggestions, or indeed have any questions, please contact Pedro de Senna via email on [email protected].

Pedro de Senna (chair), Carina Bartleet, Claire Cochrane, Victor Ladron de Guevara and Amy Skinner.

Summary of key findings

  • SCUDD member departments are generally perceived to be open environments, ostensibly welcoming diversity.
  • That said, in practice, member departments still are mono-cultural, both in the make-up of their staff (particularly with regard to class, ethnicity and disability) and in curricula (also gender and heteronormativity).
  • 68% of student respondents identify as female, compared to 25% as male (7% identified as other or did not respond). A smaller majority (56%) of staff responding to the survey also identified as female – including at professorial level (53%).
  • There is significant underrepresentation of Asian minority ethnic students and staff, compared to the general population.[3]
  • Approximately 45% the student body identified as having a religion, compared to under 30% of staff.
  • Approximately 15% of our students self-reported as having mental health issues.
  • Approximately 19% of our students are non-UK citizens; 58% of those (11% of the total) are EU citizens.
  • Over 20% of respondents identify as LGBTQA+, compared to 2% of the overall UK population.
  • Only 7.4% of staff reported a disability, compared to 17% of the UK working age population.

Key recommendations

For member departments

  • Engage in concerted efforts to diversify the curriculum, not only through processes of review and revalidation, but also within modules whose validated documentation allows for that.
  • Proactively seek to employ BAME and disabled practitioners and tutors as guest lecturers and masterclass providers as a first, temporary step towards mitigating their relative absence in permanent positions.
  • Outreach to Asian communities through engagement with schools and arts organisations.
  • Open conversations about secularism and religion, ensuring a balance is struck between keeping the secularity of courses and respecting the individual religious rights of students, while providing appropriate levels of pastoral support.
  • Make sure contextual data on class and socioeconomic background are taken into account during admissions.
  • Engage staff and students in dialogue about equality and diversity, including around admissions processes, curricula and interpersonal relationships within cohorts.


  • Create a forum to address mental health concerns, including a platform for sharing good practice.
  • Campaign and lobby on the importance of international (and especially EU) students to the survival of our discipline.
  • Make use of its platforms (social media, mailing list, website, conference) to champion disability in the performing arts, inviting campaigners, performers and colleagues to share good practice.
  • Extend the research around the female/male imbalance at UG level and its relation to career progression, both in the academy and industry.
  • Support, disseminate and if appropriate facilitate (through running seminars and/or workshops) diversity-enhancing initiatives undertaken in member departments.

[1] All percentages are approximate.

[2] Whilst our overall sample is representative, any information gathered from it must be caveated with the issue of self-selectivity, which might bias the results somewhat. Participants in this type of survey are not, by nature, entirely random, and do not necessarily represent a proportional cross-section of the universe of possible respondents.

[3] Based on the 2011 census.

Diversity in the Discipline Working Group – Report



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