Slow Train Coming: One Year On

Call for Submissions

Setting a research agenda for exploring inequalities in higher music education

Centre for Research in Music Education and Social Justice, University of Southampton and online, 24th November 2023

In November 2022, the Equality, Diversity and Music Studies Network published its report Slow Train Coming: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in UK Music Higher Education. This report drew on data on students and staff in UK music higher education between 2016–20 to reveal who is represented – and who is not represented – in music higher education. It also described the EDI work that departments are carrying out to address these issues.

This one-day event – the first conference to be hosted by the new Centre for Music Education and Social Justice at the University of Southampton – aims to set a research agenda to explore, explain, and contextualise these findings. We welcome critical, exploratory submissions that explore the historical legacies and structural routes that have shaped these contemporary patterns as well as contributions that shed light on the patterns of inequality revealed in the report.

We invite submissions from anyone interested in participating in panel discussions to explore specific issues arising from the report. The issues we propose to cover are:

  1. The under-representation of British Asian music students and staff in UK music higher education
  • While British Asian students made up 11% of the total student body during 2016-20, they constituted only 2% of the undergraduate music student population. 
  • This pattern is even more stark for women: British Asian women were under-represented compared to male students
  • This group includes UK-domiciled students from Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Chinese backgrounds, and what the Higher Education Statistics Agency describes as ‘other Asian’ backgrounds. 
  1. The under-representation of women among undergraduate and PhD students and academic staff, despite relatively high numbers of women doing postgraduate (non-doctorate) music degrees. 
  • Women students are more likely than men to progress on to postgraduate, non-doctoral degrees at most types of institutions but then less likely to continue on to PhD-level study and to become academic staff.
  • This pattern varies substantially between different types of institutions. 
  • This trend is not specific to music but has been observed across Europe in a variety of disciplines
  1. International perspectives on inequalities in music higher education
  • The report focused on the UK context. To what extent are the patterns of inequality found in the UK context also present elsewhere? 

We are also open to submissions exploring other issues raised in the report, particularly from an intersectional perspective. The format of the event will involve panel discussions, opening with short (5-minute) provocations from panellists. 

We hope to receive proposals for 5-minute provocations from across genres, disciplines, and geographical locations. Please send a 100-200 word abstract outlining your provocation to Erin Johnson-Williams at by 19th September 2023. 

The purpose of this event is to explain and understand these patterns of inequality. As a result, we are primarily interested in research-based contributions. This focus is chosen in order to complement the wider work of the EDIMS network, including its ongoing series of events which shares good practice for addressing inequalities in music higher education. Recordings of past events of its Open Forum can be found here

To read a short overview of the report, see the WonkHE coverage here.

To read the full report or watch a presentation based on the findings, please see here

We encourage contributions from postgraduate or early career researchers, particularly those from minoritised groups. Travel bursaries will be available for speakers who are postgraduate or early career researchers to enable them to join the event in person.
We aim to ensure everyone has equal access to public events. If you need alternative formats or other reasonable adjustments, please email with your request so that arrangements, where possible, can be made.

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