Minority Ethnic Students in Architecture

Funded by: CABE


January 2003 to November 2013

PSI researchers:

Background, summary and aims

The research would aim to identify the issues which arise for architectural students from different ethnic backgrounds as they progress, in particular:

  • How and why do the interests and intentions of potential architects develop and change as they pass through the education and training system?
  • What happens to those who do not become practising architects?
  • What are the factors which influence the career choices of individuals and whether or not they become architects?
  • What is the influence of ethnicity, gender and age on experiences of the education system and the decision whether to continue at each stage?
  • What is the proportion of minority ethnic students in architecture?
  • How does this compare to degrees in law and medicine?
  • Does this proportion vary significantly by school, region, etc.?

A key issue for the research is to differentiate issues in architectural education which are specific to ethnicity, as compared to those relating to gender and social class.

The project will incorporate quantitative analysis of UCAS data on entry and drop-out rates, as a context to a qualitative study of individuals’ experiences of architectural education and training.  The qualitative research will involve depth interviews with 45 students or former students of architecture (including people doing their year out and working in practice while studying for part III) and focus groups with young people in three schools or colleges. .

The under-representation of minority ethnic groups in the architectural profession has given rise to concern for a number of years.  An equal opportunities policy was adopted by the RIBA in February 2001, and Paul Hyett, in his role as president, has highlighted the need to improve accessibility for women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds.  A pilot study carried out for CABE by PSI found that the representation of minority ethnic groups on architecture, planning and building courses is lower than for higher education as a whole, but that such students were more likely than white students to obtain a place when they applied.  This indicates that low application rates by minority ethnic groups are one issue for the profession.  Minority ethnic students also have a high drop-out rate relative to white students once they have entered the architectural education process.   

Related publications / project outputs

Minority Ethnic Students in Architecture