64% of UK Black Students Have Witnessed Racism in Their Accommodation Places, Research Shows

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News by Erudera News Feb 10, 2022

Black woman at student accomodation

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has launched Living Black at University, a call for action to provide a more supportive system for Black students in the United Kingdom.

According to research commissioned by Unite Students and undertaken by Halpin, black students don’t have an experience as positive as their white peers in terms of belonging, feeling comfortable, and having a sense of safety and security, Erudera.com reports.

In addition, this research has put light on many other issues within the Black students’ community by revealing they are impacted by so-called microaggression in accommodation. More specifically, more than half of the students (64 percent) have confessed to witnessing acts of racism, some of these stances being from staff members at their universities.

Experiences discussed in the focus groups included racial slurs and racist language, and microaggressions such as touching hair.

However, this research also showed a positive remark as half of all survey respondents and 40 percent of Black respondents have witnessed staff confronting racism. In addition, two-thirds of students and 57 percent of Black students have witnessed other students speaking up against racist attitudes.

Furthermore, only 43 percent of the Black students in the survey said they felt a sense of belonging in their accommodation compared with 61 percent of White students.

“Incidents reported include racial slurs and name-calling, being excluded in social situations by White flatmates and being disproportionately challenged by security on-site,” Black students surveyed have revealed also pointing how what a toll such social situations have on their mental health and wellbeing.

About 28 percent of Black respondents also said they don’t have access to culturally relevant services, such as food. The survey also revealed that the lack of diversity in university staff makes Black students hesitate to open up to their mentors. In addition, about 25 percent of Black students agreed with the statement, “My accommodation needs to be decolonized.”

This inconvenient situation causes almost 75 percent of Black students to report that racism in accommodation impacts their mental health. As a result, students turn to family and other Black peers for support.

“Black students feel that the distress caused by racism is not given due consideration by non-Black counsellors who do not have either lived experience of their own, or professional experience in supporting those affected by racism,” the report reveals by also revealing that most students rely on Afro-Caribbean Society or similar ethnicity-based communities.

Findings from the survey also revealed that Black students aren’t fully aware of policies promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion in student accommodation (23 percent). In comparison, only 11 percent of White students agreed with such a statement. This means that Black students didn’t know there were policies and procedures to tackle racism. Most Black students said they wouldn’t report racism to staff, which can happen due to the majority of staff being White.

According to official data published by the Higher Education Statistics, only one percent of professors at UK Universities are Black. More specifically, 155 out of over 23,000 professors are black, and this figure has remained almost the same in the last five years. Moreover, an increase of only 50 posts has been noticed despite the fact that the number of professorships increased by more than 3,000 during that time.

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