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June 9, 2011

Is Racism a problem on campus?

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Written by: Kyle Raffo

Racism is a bigger problem on our campuses than previously thought, according to the NUS.

New research from the union shows that one in six black students (African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean students) have experienced racism at university with one third not trusting complaints to be handled properly.

The revelations came from a two-year research project entitled ‘Race for Equality’.

And this problem is not just amongst students with 9% describing their current teaching and learning environment as racist.

Anonymous participants said that they were racially abused by their teachers and other students.

One student of Bangladeshi origin studying in higher education said: “There are many racist teachers working in the education system. Some of them have the mindset that students from Black or Asian ethnic backgrounds are in the classroom to make trouble.

“Others do not want us to develop ourselves and reach equality with them. Some try to pretend that we do not exist. Some simply do not even want to know.”

Many linked their experiences of racism with a drop in their self-esteem, confidence, motivation and desire to continue their education, exposing that they felt marginalised and socially excluded.

Oxford and Cambridge’s poor record of recruiting black students had put them off applying for the universities. Implying they would be more likely to experience racism there than at any other institution.

Beyond the explicit experiences of racism, 17% of respondents felt their teaching and learning environment isolated them, 23% felt it was cliquey, and 8% felt it was hostile.

NUS President, Aaron Porter, said: “We have a long way to go to close the participation gap for Black students in education. If Black students feel unwelcome in classrooms this must be addressed by tackling the very real racism that still exists on our campuses.”

NUS Black Students’ Officer, Kanja Sesay, speaking at the launch of the report at the NUS Black Students’ Conference in Birmingham said: “The findings of this research are an opportunity for us to focus our minds on how we ensure education institutions do more to enforce race equality legislation on campuses across Britain.

“Denying black student’s access to opportunity in education has a knock-on effect in later years too and therefore requires everyone’s urgent attention.”

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