More than one-third of minority ethnic third-level staff say they have been subjected to racial or ethnic discrimination on campus.
They are also less likely to be on permanent contracts and more likely to earn less than €60,000 per year than their white colleagues.
A new report has, for the first time, shone a light on the issues of racial and ethnic discrimination faced by minority ethnic staff at the country's universities and colleges.
The findings are issued by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and include input from some 3,300 staff working in higher education in Ireland.
Among the findings are:
- Some 35% of staff from minority ethnic groups have been subjected to racial or ethnic discrimination on campus or online during the course of their work;
- Less than half of minority ethnic staff are on full-time contracts, compared to almost three-quarters of white staff;
- Just 17% of minority ethnic staff earn over €75,000, compared to 38% of white Irish and 25% of white other staff;
- Some 71% said they feel they are treated equally by their colleagues, irrespective of their background;
- And 69% said they are treated equally by students, irrespective of their background;
- Few white staff reported experiencing racial or ethnic discrimination, but all groups reported witnessing racial or ethnic discrimination against minority ethnic staff;
- There is evidence in the survey that racist incidents are under-reported by students and staff.
In addition to these findings, the report included a broad range of personal submissions from staff, who described their experiences of reporting abuse, stereotyping, and at times, the lack of recognition for their work.
Staff highlighted the issue of 'microaggressions', meaning brief and sometimes unintentional exchanges which disparage those from minority ethnic backgrounds.
Language was highlighted as a "huge issue", with staff complaining that despite being fluent English speakers, they face criticism and often incorrect corrections due to their accents, while others said their expertise is doubted in comparison to colleagues, both by other staff members and students, with their teachings "fact-checked".
Some members also described overt racism and discrimination, including the use of racist language, being told to "go back to" their own country and, in one instance, a student putting Swastikas on their clothing and goose-stepping through campus.
The HEA is committed to taking a proactive approach to tackle all forms of racial and ethnic discrimination in higher education, according to Dr Ross Woods, of the HEA Centre of Excellence for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
“Now that we have an evidence base, the HEA can work with institutions to prevent rather than react to problems in this area and to keep pace with wider demographic changes in Irish society.”
Launched last December, the race equality survey was open to all staff working in higher education.
Most staff (72%) who took part described their ethnicity as ‘White Irish’, while nearly a fifth (17.5%) described themselves as ‘White Other’.
A further 8.6% of staff taking part described themselves using other categories; This included Asian (Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi) at 1.7%, Black African, at 1.4%, and mixed background at 1.7%.
Asian Chinese, any other Asian background, any other Black background, Arabic, Irish Traveller and Roma were less than 1% each. Those who described themselves as ‘Other’ made up 1%.