Over a third of new law students are from ethnic minority backgrounds

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By Katie King on

Law far more ethnically diverse than other humanities-based subjects

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) show 35% of new law students are non-white.

The data looks at those studying at UK universities who began their law degrees in 2015-16, the most up-to-date information available. It shows a grand total of 23,795 started law degrees in this time, but ethnicity data was only collected for the 18,260 students who were UK domiciled.

Of these, 11,815 (65%) are white, 1,910 (10%) are black, 3,045 (17%) are Asian and 1,270 (7%) are ‘Other’. The ethnic identity of 220 (1%) UK domiciled students is unknown.

Table via HESA

To put this into context, 12% of the UK population is black, Asian, minority ethnic (BAME), making law degrees extremely ethnically diverse. By comparison, the legal profession is often lambasted for its lack of diversity; just a handful of City firms boast partnerships comparable to the population.

And how does law stack up against other degree subjects?

Using the same HESA data, and again discounting non-UK domiciled students, we can see law is pretty comparable to its intellectual rival medicine. The stats show 62% of first year medicine and dentistry students are white.

That said, the percentage of BAME students for other humanities-based subjects is far lower than for law. Eighty-seven percent of history and philosophy students are white, as are 84% of language students and 80% of education students. In veterinary science, 93% of students are white.

HESA also holds data on students’ gender. Of the 23,795 aspiring lawyers who started their degrees in 2015, 8,615 (36%) are male and 15,175 (64%) are female. Five identify as ‘Other’.

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