University Of Cambridge Appoints Youngest Black Professor
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The University Of Cambridge Appoints Youngest Black Professor

Jasmyne Jeffery February 23, 2023

Jason Arday will become the youngest-ever black professor at the University of Cambridge. The scholar of race, inequality and education will begin his position next month. This is a historic appointment for the world-renowned institution.

37-year-old Professor Jason Arday, met with numerous challenges in his life, achieved a goal. Starting March 6, Jason will become a professor at the University of Cambridge. He will become the youngest black person ever to do so. A scholar whose specialities are inequality and race, the professor will teach sociology.

Jason Arday Has Battled Challenges Throughout His Life

For many, the image of someone who teaches at Cambridge is that of someone fed with a silver spoon. That, of course, is not necessarily the case, and Jason Varday proves that.

Speaking to The Guardian, the scholar did not have the easiest start to life. However, has certainly not let it hold him back.

At three years old, Jason was diagnosed with global development delay and placed on the autism spectrum. Born in Clapham and one of four children, he used sign language to communicate until he was 11. It was only at that age that he learned to speak. After seeing a language therapist, Jason’s family were told he would require lifelong support. Clearly, they were wrong.

At 16, he left school with two GCSEs in PE and textiles. He then went on to complete a university degree in PE and education, gaining a PGCE and a PhD at Liverpool John Moore’s University. It was at that point that he set himself the goal of teaching at either Oxford or Cambridge.

Now that dream has come true, Jason feels it isn’t down to talent, but determination.

“If I was a betting person, the odds on it were so long. It’s just mad. I knew I didn’t necessarily have huge amounts of talent, but I knew how badly I wanted it and I knew how hard I wanted to work.”

Cambridge University Appointing Black Professor Does Not Fix Minority Representation

Though Jason believes that Cambridge has certainly taken steps in the right direction, there is still room for improvement. This is across the education sector as a whole, where black academics are not recognised or paid the same way as their white colleagues.

Looking at data from 2018, the professor made the point that black and ethnic minority academics were paid, on average, £14,000 a year less than their white counterparts. He also spoke of the well-being of black and ethnic minority people, particularly women, in these spaces.

“[there is] a serious challenge towards the mental health and psychological wellbeing of black and ethnic minority people, particularly women of colour, and more specifically black women in the sector, who to be quite honest are treated differently.

Jason spoke of the need to fix these issues; how, as a sector, we need to do better for these people and to acknowledge the stain it leaves. Reciting some alarming data, out of 24,000 professors in the UK, the scholar said a mere 160 were black. Less than a third of these were black women.

Whilst Professor Jason Arday’s story is certainly one of great success and perseverance, it also highlights the extra barriers faced by those in minority communities. Hopefully, it will not be in the too-distant future when we have an acknowledgement of these imbalances and they are properly rectified.

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time Entertainment and News Writer on university-themed website Freshered and HITC, and joined the company having previously worked in a freelance role. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger and graduated in 2022 with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Now, she puts her creativity to use reviewing university bars, Love Island episodes and the latest apps any 18-25-year-old is using.