London and the UK have a large and vibrant Latin American community, but the group has no formal ethnic minority status in the UK census. ‘They call us “the invisibles” – los invisibles,’ said Paulina Tamborrel, a Community Organiser at Citizens UK and a Londoner of Latin American origin.
The most recent study estimates that there are around 250,000 people of Latin American, or Latinx, descent in the UK, forming the eighth largest ethnic community. Over half are living in London, with the majority based in King’s home boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark.
When filling in official forms, the UK’s Latinx community has been forced to select code 80: ‘Other ethnic background’. This huge data gap means national and local authorities can’t develop or recognise a need for tailored services for Latin American communities.
King’s partnership with community organising charity Citizens UK highlighted the issue of Latinx representation. It led to the launch of a report, produced with the Centre for Education and Youth, exploring the representation, engagement and participation of Latinx students in higher education.
‘Latinx ethnicities are not a UCAS category, so lack visibility and representation in higher education,’ said Michael Bennett, Associate Director of Widening Participation at King’s. ‘With such a large Latinx community within our home boroughs, we wanted to better understand their needs so that we can tailor our access programmes and support.’
The report outlines ways that universities can support Latinx students into higher education, such as hosting advice events with current Latinx students or building connections with local church and community groups. In response, King’s Widening Participation Department, which led the campaign, has launched a Spanish-language Parent Power, ‘Empoderando Padres’, recruiting parents as university access campaigners and experts. King’s is also the first UK university to offer a Latin American ethnicity monitoring option and is calling on other institutions to do the same.