Monitoring sex and gender - HESA student record
Recommendations on monitoring from ECU
There have recently been a number of discussions about the proposed sex and gender monitoring categories in next year's Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) record. We are delighted that HESA is taking this issue on board, and is welcoming responses on the issue.
We would like to take this opportunity to clarify ECU's input into the consultation process.
ECU works to advance equality and diversity for all staff and students in higher education across all protected characteristics. In this role we submitted recommendations to HESA's consultation on monitoring.
ECU recommended four categories for monitoring sex to HESA:
- Prefer not to say
We recommended the replacement of the category 'indeterminate' with 'other'. The use of 'other' is more appropriate for people who associate with the terms intersex, androgyne, intergender, ambigender, gender fluid, polygender and gender queer.
You can read our full recommendations on the HESA website: ECU recommendations
When our original recommendations were not taken up, we suggested that the term 'legal sex' was adopted. Although not our recommended approach, when used alongside a question about gender identity this would give the option for a respondent to differentiate between their legal sex and their preferred sex (should they wish to).
Our recommendations came from our work with universities. It was clear that the original category of 'indeterminate' was confusing and did not effectively serve its purpose for identifying staff and students who were intersex. In addition, universities reported an increase in students identifying as gender queer and polygender as well as intersex.
We also recommended the inclusion of a separate optional question on gender identity in line with the Equality Act 2010 and HEI's duties under this legislation.
ECU recommends that HEIs only monitor gender identity if the environment is appropriate. For example, when staff and students have been consulted, confidentiality of data can be guaranteed and most importantly, the purpose for the collection of data is clear. Monitoring questions should be optional, and always provide the choice to answer 'other' and 'prefer not to say'.
Our recommendations on gender identiy came from our guidance on trans staff and students, which has been developed in consultation with representatives from the university sector and took into consideration guidance that was available from trans organisation Press for Change at the time.