The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) has noted that a higher percentage of black and minority ethnic (BME) students fail or take longer to complete their social work degrees, compared with the white majority student population. In response to this and related evidence, a national study was carried out in 2013 to explore this phenomenon and ways to support BME students in social work education in Scotland. BME students from five Scottish universities were interviewed, along with lecturers from six Scottish Universities, and practice educators from around Scotland. The background to the study is discussed and a review of the literature on race, whiteness, diversity and a strengths-based perspective is provided. The methodology of the study is explained, followed by a presentation of some of the key findings covering the themes of cultural difference, discrimination and valuing student strengths. To prepare social work students to practice in a culturally diverse and culturally aware workforce the paper argues for framing of social work education within a strengths-based perspective, of valuing diversity and other knowledges and for this approach to be embedded within a critique of both race and whiteness.