Graduate Jason Arday is youngest Black Cambridge professor

A renowned sociologist and LJMU graduate, who was unable to read or write until the age of 18, is to become the youngest black professor ever appointed at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Jason Arday, 37, is a highly respected scholar of race, inequality and education, yet at three years old he was diagnosed with global development delay and autism spectrum disorder and he did not learn to speak until he was 11.

Next month he will take up the role of professor of sociology of education at Cambridge, and he hopes his extraordinary story will inspire others from under-represented backgrounds to progress into higher education.

Arday was born and raised in south London and much of his childhood was spent with speech and language therapists. His family were told it was likely he would need lifelong support, but he defied all expectations by achieving a BTec and then a degree in PE and Education.

Jason worked as a lecturer at LJMU's IM Marsh campus where he gained his Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and his PhD in Education.

He is currently a Professor at Glasgow University where his work focuses "primarily on how we can open doors to more people from disadvantaged backgrounds and truly democratise higher education.

“Hopefully being in a place like Cambridge will provide me with the leverage to lead that agenda nationally and globally.”

In November 2021, Jason returned to LJMU as a speaker for a Black History Month event when he credited the university for allowing him to “really launch into his academic career” and described Liverpool as “the place where it all began.”

He told the Liverpool ECHO: "Becoming one of the youngest professors in the UK and the youngest Black professor at the time of my appointment, while life-changing, illuminated the amount of suffering I had endured on my way to arriving at that destination.

"Ultimately my eternal aim throughout my academic career has been to eradicate this suffering for Black and Minority Ethnic academics in the Academy. Coming back to Liverpool John Moores is an honour given my previous relationship with the organisation as a graduate and former member of academic staff'."

His then supervisor, Professor Phil Vickerman, PVC Student Experience at LJMU, said: “As soon as I met Jason when we interviewed him for a lecturing post his enthusiasm, grit, and determination to make a difference shone through. Jason made a big impact on our students and encouraged them to be brave, challenge current practice, and push their boundaries of knowledge and understanding. 

“I am proud to call Jason a friend as well as colleague and we have regularly kept in touch since he left LJMU. I am not surprised how Jason’s career has progressed and the high esteem he is held in nationally and internationally. 

"I have gained significantly from Jason’s views on Higher Education and diversity.”  

-Professor Jason Arday is one of the LJMU '200 People' as part of our Bicentenary celebrations this year.


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