Racial harassment is “a common occurrence” for many students in England, Scotland and Wales, Britain’s equalities watchdog says.
Victims’ grades and mental health too often suffer and some quit altogether, according to an Equality and Human Rights Commission report.
But too many universities fear facing up to the issue will harm their reputation, the authors say.
In response, Universities UK pledged “urgent steps” on racial harassment.
- Racist chants ‘banter’, claims student
- University racism inquiry launched
- Universities must do more to tackle hate crimes and harassment
The EHRC carried out in-depth interviews with students and staff, commissioned a survey of a representative sample of more than 1,000 students and sent a questionnaire to universities.
The report says about 13% of the students questioned had experienced racial harassment, rising to about a quarter of students from minority ethnic backgrounds, but universities are often unaware of the true extent of the problem on their campuses.
It calls the results “damning”.
‘Pretty for a black girl’
Students and staff had experienced:
- racist name-calling, insults and jokes
- physical attacks
- racist material and displays often linked to student society events
One undergraduate in Wales, reported aggression from fellow students.
“On multiple occasions, myself or my friends have had the N-word shouted at us or being told they are ‘pretty for a black girl’,” she said.
While black and Asian students were most likely to report abuse, Jewish and Muslim students also said they were targeted.