Ben HaywardOctober 8th
2019

Universities must do more to tackle the racial harassment and hate crime taking place on their campuses, a new report has stated. 

The report, from Universities UK (UUK), says institutions have been prioritising the tackling of sexual harassment and gender-based violence, and as a result less status has been given to race-based incidents. 

Addressing racial harassment will require extra support, time and resources if the same focus is to be achieved as on issues like sexual misconduct, the report suggests, after nearly two thirds of the institutions surveyed said they had introduced consent training for students to address sexual harassment.

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The report comes after an investigation carried out by The Independent revealed that the number of racist incidents in UK universities rose by more than 60% between 2015 and 2017 - with the UUK report suggesting that the reporting of hate incidents tends to be low due to normalisation of behaviours and a lack of understanding of what constitutes racial harassment.

UUK has said it will develop guidance to address racial harassment, however the report also called on university chiefs to take accountability for tackling harassment and hate crime.

Speaking to The Independent, President of UUK, Professor Julia Buckingham, said: “The higher education sector recognises its shared responsibility to eliminating hate crime, which is unacceptable in our society, and in our universities. 

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“We are committed to ensuring we create welcoming and inclusive environments for students of all genders, backgrounds and ethnicities to flourish and this research shows significant progress towards that.

“However, it is clear that there is a long way to go in ending harassment and hate crime for good in higher education."

Omar Khan, director of race equality think tank, the Runnymede Trust, said: “Statements of zero tolerance policies towards racism while welcome, are not enough. They depend on disclosure and the effectiveness, transparency and credibility of mechanisms for reporting and dealing with complaints of racism.”

Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), said: “Universities should be safe spaces for all staff and students, free from harassment and discrimination, but this report shows there is still much work to be done to make this a reality.”

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