Professor Kalwant Bhopal

Professor Kalwant Bhopal

School of Education
Professorial Research Fellow
Professor of Education and Social Justice and Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Race & Education (CRRE)

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Kalwant is Professor of Education and Social Justice, Professorial Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education in the School of Education.

Kalwant’s research focuses on the achievements and experiences of minority ethnic groups in education. She has conducted research on exploring discourses of identity and intersectionality examining the lives of Black minority ethnic groups as well as examining the marginal position of Gypsies and Travellers. Her research specifically explores how processes of racism, exclusion and marginalisation operate in predominantly White spaces with a focus on social justice and inclusion. More recently she has conducted research focussing on the position of minority ethnic academics in higher education. Her research on this area has been used to inform policy making in higher education, particularly the development of the Race Equality Charter mark. She has published 9 books, 10 edited collections and various journal articles.

Kalwant was recently conferred a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences. She is Visiting Professor at Kings College London (Department of Education and Professional Studies) and was Visiting Professor at Harvard University in the Harvard Graduate School of Education from 2017-2019 . She has been Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Queens University, Belfast and Visiting Scholar at the UCL Institute of Education. 


  • PhD (University of Bristol)
  • MSC Sociology (Econ)
  • PGCE (FE)
  • BA (Hons) Sociology


Kalwant joined the University of Birmingham in January 2017. Prior to that she was Professor of Education and Social Justice at the University of Southampton. She was Director of Post Graduate Research Degrees and chaired the faculty Equality and Diversity Committee. Previously, she worked at the Institute of Education.

Postgraduate supervision

Kalwant has the following research interests:

  • race, racism, gender, class, intersectionality
  • educational inequalities
  • schools, higher education
  • qualitative research, case study research
  • ethnography
  • Gypsy and Traveller groups
  • social justice, equity 


Advancing Equality in Higher Education: an exploratory study of the Athena SWAN and Race Equality Charters

Case study analysis of higher education institutions and their views on the Race Equality Charter (REC)

This project which has been funded by the University and College Union (UCU) will explore the impact of the Race Equality Charter mark. It aims to:

  • To examine aspects of good practice in awarded REC higher education institutions.
  • To use case study data as examples of what can be learnt in relation to policy making around race in higher education institutions.
  • To examine areas of improvement for those institutions not awarded the REC.
  • To contribute to UCU policy making and future strategy on equity and inclusion. Read more...

Transitions from Higher Education

This project explores young people’s transitions from higher education. It uses surveys and questionnaires with students who are in their final year of undergraduate study on education/ social sciences degrees. Read more....

Home schooling and Home education: race, class and inequality.

Kalwant is currently conducting research, with Dr Martin Myers (University of Portsmouth) exploring how and why home education is accessed by different social groups; and secondly, how these different groups are perceived as home educators. The research explores how marginal groups in society are often portrayed, both by educational authorities and in the media, as putting their children at risk by home educating. The research consists of in-depth interviews with families from different social and ethnic backgrounds.

BME Leaders: support networks and strategies for success in higher education

This project was funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and explores the sources of support and success strategies BME leaders use to achieve their academic success; it examines participants leadership roles and achievements in the White space of the academy and explores how higher education institutions can provide better support for the career progression of BME academics to senior leadership roles.

Download the full report 

Understanding academic flight from UK higher education

This project was funded by the Equality Challenge Unit. The aims of the research were to:

  • Understand to what extent UK academics consider moving to work in higher education overseas and to determine if there is a difference by ethnicity
  • Understand the reasons (both push and pull factors) which contribute to potential migration to overseas higher education institutions (HEIs) and whether these factors vary by ethnicity
  • Establish what UK HEIs can do to retain minority ethnic academics, and attract back those who have left.
  • The findings suggest that BME academics are more likely to consider a move overseas compared to their white colleagues. The report suggests various recommendations for the retention of BME academics, particularly in relation to providing support for promotion and career progression.

Download the full report 

Race, diversity and Inclusion in Initial Teacher Education

Funded by Multiverse, this study examined student and tutor understandings of the teaching of ‘race’, diversity and inclusion on ITE courses (PGCE primary/secondary and BA QTS) at one case study university. The project explored the views of students and tutors on ITE courses, regarding the teaching of ‘race’, diversity and inclusion? 

The research was based on questionnaire surveys with students on PGCE primary/secondary and BA QTS and all tutors who taught on these courses. The study was presented as a case study analysis of the teaching of ‘race’, diversity and inclusion, which included developing workshops for staff and students. The workshops addressed ways of challenging stereotypes and confronting ‘difference’.

Other activities

Editor-in chief, Women’s Studies International Forum, 

Executive Editor, British Journal Of Sociology of Education, 

Editorial Board member,  Race, Ethnicity and Education, 

Editorial Board member, International Journal of Inclusive Education; 

Editorial Board Member, International Journal on School Disaffection: 

Editorial Board member, Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture. 

Vice-Chair, Higher Education Race Action Group (HERAG), Equality Challenge Unit.


Highlight publications

Bhopal, K 2018, White Privilege: the myth of a post-racial society. Policy Press, Bristol.

Bhopal, K & Myers, M 2018, Home Schooling and Home Education: Race, Class and Inequality. Routledge.

Bhopal, K 2016, The Experiences of black and minority ethnic academics: a comparative study of the unequal academy. Routledge research in higher education, 1st edn, Routledge, London and New York.

Deuchar, R & Bhopal, K 2017, Young people and social control: problems and prospects from the margins. Palgrave, London UK.

Bhopal, K & Danaher, P 2013, Identity and Pedagogy in Higher Education: International Comparisons. Continuum.

Recent publications


Bhopal, K & Henderson, H 2019, 'Competing Inequalities: gender vs race in higher education institutions in the UK', Educational Review.

Bhopal, K 2019, 'Gender, ethnicity and career progression in UK higher education: a case study analysis', Research Papers in Education.

Bhopal, K & Chapman, TK 2019, 'International minority ethnic academics at predominantly white institutions', British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 98-113.

Bhopal, K 2019, 'Success against the odds: the effects of mentoring on the careers of senior Black and minority ethnic academics', British Journal of Educational Studies.

Chapman, TK & Bhopal, K 2018, 'The perils of integration: exploring the experiences of African American and black Caribbean students in predominately white secondary schools', Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 42, no. 7, pp. 1110 - 1129.


Bhopal, K 2019, Race matters: addressing racial inequalities in higher education. in H Dale-Rivas (ed.), The White Elephant in the room: ideas for reducing racial inequality in higher education. vol. 120, Higher Education Policy Institute, London, pp. 11-16.

Bhopal, K, Brown, H & Jackson, J 2018, Should I stay or should I go? BME academics and the decision to leave UK higher education. in J Arday & H Safia Mirza (eds), Dismantling race in higher education: racism, whiteness and decolonising the academy. 1st edn, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 125-139.

Commissioned report

Bhopal, K & Henderson, H 2019, Advancing equality in higher education: an exploratory study of the Athena Swan and Race Equality Charters. British Academy.

Bhopal, K & Pitkin, C 2018, Investigating higher education institutions and their views on the race equality charter. University and College Union (UCU).

Other contribution

Bhopal, K 2019, Inclusion and Diversity in higher education - key thoughts from the HEPI/Oracle roundtable..

Bhopal, K 2019, Race and gender equality ‘not on par at universities’. Research Research Ltd..

Bhopal, K & Henderson, H 2019, Gender over race? Equity and inclusion in higher education. London School of Economics and Political Science.

Web publication/site

Bhopal, K, Black and minority ethnic academics less likely to hold top jobs, 2019, Web publication/site, The Conversation .

Bhopal, K, The first study about the Race Equality Charter reveals how to improve equality in higher education, 2018, Web publication/site.

Bhopal, K, Despite Rhetoric of Inclusion whiteness predominates in our universities, 2018, Web publication/site.

View all publications in research portal



Professor Kalwant Bhopal is an expert on educational inequalities, educational policy making, race, class and gender inequalities. Her research focuses on the experiences of black and minority ethnic groups, as well as Gypsies and Travellers. 

  • Educational Inequalities 
  • Race, class and gender inequalities in education 
  • Policy making in education 

Policy experience

Professor Bhopal regularly writes for blogs and media outlets, she is a member of the Higher Education Race Action Group and is considered one of the leading academics in the field of educational inequalities. 

Bhopal, K (17 June 2018) ‘Time to disrupt, challenge and dismantle white privilege’. Research Fortnight

Bhopal, K (6 June 2018) ‘Education, policy making and white privilege.’ Discover Society

Bhopal, K (24 May 2018) ‘The persistence of white privilege in higher education: isn’t it time for radical change?’ University of Birmingham Social Sciences Blog.

Bhopal, K (16 May 2018) Interviewed on the Victoria Derbyshire Live programme BBC News Channel and BBC2 to discuss institutional racism and white privilege in higher education.

Bhopal, K (2018) ‘Systemic racism in employment must be tackled’. Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS)

Bhopal, K (2018) ‘Key perspectives from academics: race, equity and social justice’ in Clarke, P and Beech, D (eds) Reaching the parts of society universities have missed: a manifesto for the new director of fair access and participation. London: Higher Education Policy Institute (HEFI).