40% of International Students in Ireland Have Experienced Racism, Report Reveals

Ireland Europe Higher Education News International Studies by Erudera News Dec 12, 2021

students experience racism

40 percent of international students in Ireland claim that they have witnessed or been victims of racism, but only 5 percent have reported the incident, according to a new report launched by the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS).

The Executive Director of the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS), Laura Harmon, said that many international students in Ireland are facing challenges that negatively affect their academic performance, ability to work and live adequately, as well as their mental health and wellbeing, Erudera.com reports.

“Many of these problems, although not new, have been highlighted and exacerbated by Covid-19, and additional challenges have arisen as a direct result of the pandemic,” Harmon said.

Another report’s key finding is that the mental health of 79 percent of students participating in the survey has been affected because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of whom have also experienced isolation, depression, anxiety, as well as difficulties while finding the right mental health support.

Furthermore, 63 percent of English language school students and 28 percent of students at a higher education institution said that they share their room with at least one person. Students have also mentioned the low availability and high costs for accommodation as some of the challenges they experience.

According to the report, 50 percent of students described their student experience as positive. Differently, 26 percent of students indicated a negative experience, while 24 percent were neutral.

“Restrictive visas and employers’ poor understanding of different types of work permits heavily impact the ability of international students to gain relevant work experience and to support themselves financially. Limited employment opportunities were further reduced because of Covid-19,” the report notes.

Commenting on the findings, Harmon said that that the pandemic has affected all students in Ireland, but restrictions, in particular, have hit international students hard, who have been unable to attend classes, meet their classmates and lecturers, and involve fully in college life.

“Without being able to meet classmates and lecturers, attend classes or facilities on campus, or immerse themselves fully in college life, students who are far from home have felt especially isolated, and almost 80% of those who participated in our research have seen their mental health deteriorate – some severely – as a result,” Harmon added.

Over 760 international students from 75 countries participated in ICOS’ study, which was conducted through an online survey in several languages, as well as two focus groups.

Out of 760 students, 58 percent said that they were students at an Irish higher education institute while 42 percent at an English language school. The latter were asked about the following topics:

  • immigration
  • medical insurance
  • online learning and support
  • employment
  • wellbeing
  • accommodation
  • racism

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