Many universities advise students not to use “he” or “him” as a default pronoun, suggesting instead using “he or she” or “they”. Cardiff Metropolitan University’s “Guide to Inclusive Language” gives gender-neutral alternatives for 34 words or phrases. The six-page document says that the terms “forefathers”, “best man for the job” and “man-hour” should be avoided in order to “promote an atmosphere in which all students feel valued”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The university said in a statement that the document “makes no demands, bans nothing and carries no sanctions.” Students at Hull University are being told to use gender neutral language in their essays – or risk losing marks. According to documents obtained by the Sunday Times, students are told to “be aware of the powerful and symbolic nature of language and use gender-sensitive formulations. Failure to use gender-sensitive language will impact your mark.”The document, which was released following a Freedom of Information request, was part of a course on religious activism being taught at the university. A senior lecturer in religion at the university said: “Should any student use language which is not deemed gender-neutral, they will be offered feedback as to why. Deduction of marks is taken on a case-by-case basis.”Academics criticised the move, calling it “linguistic policing”.Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at Kent University, told the Sunday Times: “Usually such threats are implicit rather than spelt out as in the case of Hull.”This linguistic policing is used as a coercive tool to impose a conformist outlook. The alternative is to pay a penalty of being marked down.”It has become increasingly common for universities to advise their students to use gender-neutral language, but this is the first time a university has said not doing so will affect a student’s mark.