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Use of language: race and ethnicity

Guidance on approaching terminology around race and ethnicity

There are a number of terms in use around race and ethnicity. Using these terms depends on the context in which you are using them, why you are using them and how you have decided which terms to use.

Advance HE is focussed on advancing equality and eliminating discrimination and as a consequence regularly refers to the barriers and discrimination faced by minority ethnic groups.

For our data and research to be relevant and useful, we adopt ‘BME’ (Black and minority ethnic) as a commonly used term to ensure consistency with other public bodies and to benchmark against their data. However, we are aware of the limitations of this term and try wherever possible to put information in context, or disaggregate the data where relevant.

If your institution is trying to decide on terminology to use then it’s best to involve your staff and students and carry out an impact assessment. This will ensure you are using appropriate terms, highlight to people that your institution is aware of the sensitivities and complexities involved and has a good rationale for why it uses the terms it does.

Involvement and consultation may also have the added benefits of getting people talking about race equality and possibly improving disclosure rates.