High levels of racism directed at international students 

High levels of racism directed at international students 

More than 420 international students took part in ‘Speak Out Against Racism’, of which 97% were from non-EEA countries.

Almost two-thirds of international students have experienced or witnessed racism, and only one in ten incidents are reported to the authorities, new research suggests.

The Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) is due to publish the findings today of the first in-depth investigation into international students’ experience of racism in Ireland.

More than 420 international students took part in ‘Speak Out Against Racism’, of which 97% were from non-EEA countries.

The most common form of racism experienced or witnessed was verbal (42%), followed by ‘indirect’ racism (39%). This includes someone being treated differently or unfairly due to their race, particularly in the workplace.

A further 12% witnessed physical racism, including physical assaults, the throwing of objects, or being spat at, and a further 4% indicated that they had experienced or witnessed online hate speech.

Incidents of racism

The majority of racist incidents occurred in Dublin (68%) though incidents occurred in both urban and rural settings. Several people taking part reported witnessing or experiencing racism on more than one occasion, in some cases, in different parts of Ireland.

A quarter of all racist incidents occurred on the street (25%), followed by social settings like restaurants, pubs or nightclubs, the workplace, or public transport (each at 15%), social media (6%), and a series of other public settings (31%).

One in three of the respondents studying in higher education reported experiencing or witnessing a racist incident on campus.

Of the participants that provided information on the perpetrators of racism, 35 said the offenders were youths or teenagers.

There were a further 34 accounts of racial discrimination in the workplace at the hands of work colleagues, supervisors, and customers; 25 cases involving strangers; and 23 cases involving individuals or groups of men.

A further 17 respondents from the survey reported institutional racism, for example, at their higher education institution, when dealing with the Gardai, and at a hospital.

The research shows that racism remains a prevalent issue in Ireland and one that strongly affects international students who come here to study, according to ICOS executive director Laura Harmon.

"According to recent reports from Gardaí, racism and xenophobia account for a third of all recorded hate crimes, so we urge the Government to enact hate crime legislation without delay.” 

While legislation and strategies to tackle racial discrimination are essential, there must also be a genuine commitment at the highest level to prioritise addressing racism, including the allocation of sufficient resources, she added.

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