UK Class in Classics Launch Event

Same class

We held a launch event for the UK Class in Classics Report 2024 on Thursday 14 March, a little over two weeks after the report was released. The event was an initial opportunity to share reflections on the report’s key findings and recommendations, as well as to start discussing next steps. Attendees included university classicists at a range of levels, as well as academics working on socio-economic inequality in specific institutions and in other disciplines. Several themes emerged during the discussion.

  1. How do we account for differences between institutions, both in terms of the data and experiences we captured and how we implement recommendations? The Survey did capture data on type of university, so there is the potential for us to do some more granular work here in the future. More generally, Oxbridge looms large in the Report’s stories of exclusion (pp. 62-3) so we clearly need to vary our approach and recommendations depending on institution. It was suggested that we might run events for sharing good practice, to harness the positive work already being done in this area. We noted that the ‘good practice’ questions and prompts in the Survey were not taken up to a great extent, but we hope that targeted discussions will uncover more.
  2. How can we collect class data, particularly on a large scale to understand the national picture of access and inclusion within the discipline? We noted that other sectors, from the Civil Service to the Creative Industries and even the Financial Sector, are collecting this data – so why can’t universities, schools and related institutions do the same? The devising by the Social Mobility Commission of clear rubrics for measuring class background gets rid of the standard ‘what is class anyway?’ response, and this Report gives us a strong evidence base to show the necessity of such data collection. We can start small, working with our own departments; but we can also make use of the wider frameworks that are already in place, such as the CUCD. We also need to be clear about why we are gathering this data and (using the Report’s recommendations) what our goals are.
  3. How can we look more closely at the intersection between class and disability? As we said in the report, we could only make minor observations based on the data we were able to collect: “The limited representation of disabled respondents (regardless of class background) at postdoctoral level and above prevents robust analysis of how class disadvantage may (or may not) play out at different career stages” (p.27). However, we recognise that the absence of data is significant, and some tentative analysis of our small dataset might suggest that disabled working-class classicists are choosing to leave the discipline after postgraduate study. As one attendee rightly stressed, the support available to disabled students swiftly evaporates after completing their studies. We are keen to explore this intersection further in future events and are supportive of future initiatives to study disability in Classics. 
  4. What are some of the next steps for the Network? We have multiple future events in the pipeline, including a joint event with the Institute for Classical Studies. We hope to hold dedicated events on themes including language learning, class data collection, and class bias training. We are keen to collaborate on events with other organisations, such as Working Classicists, as well as speaking directly with departments about how to start implementing the report’s recommendations on a local level. 

Finally, we reiterated our deep gratitude to everyone who shared their experiences with us, and we also want to extend this everyone who has engaged with the report since its launch. It is heartening to see so many people talking about the report’s findings and recommendations, both inside and outside Classics. Thank you!