Over one third of ethnic minority higher education staff experience discrimination - study

The Higher Education Authorities' Race Equality report examines the staff diversity in Irish institutions.
Over one third of ethnic minority higher education staff experience discrimination - study

Over one third of people who identify as being of an ethic minority working in a higher-level institution in the Republic of Ireland say they have been subject to racial and or/ethnic discrimination on campus or online during the course of their work.

A report published by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) found of the 3,323 people surveyed from across the sector, 71.9 per cent identified as White Irish, 17.5 per cent categorised themselves as White Other, while 3.1 per cent said they were of an Asian or Asian Irish, including Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or any other Asian background.

The number of workers from the Black or Black Irish, including African or any other Black background, was just 1.7 per cent, while 3.3 per cent said they were another ethnicity, including mixed background, Arabic, or other. Less than 1 per cent of respondents said they came from the Irish Traveller or Roma communities.

Although the majority of respondents (61 per cent) said they had not witnessed racial and/or ethnic discrimination on campus or online during the course of their work, staff from the White Other (14 per cent) and minority ethnic (14 per cent) categories were more likely to have witnessed discrimination in the workplace compared to their White Irish counterparts (10 per cent).

Just 19 per cent of staff from minority ethnic groups agreed that instances of discrimination, harassment or abuse would be investigated properly by their institution and appropriate disciplinary action would be taken, while 15 per cent of respondents from the same category disagreed with the statement.

Overall, 53 per cent of staff said they witnessed discrimination during the course of their work, while 8 per cent said they were the target of such behaviour.

Pay gap

While those earning less than €30,000 were found to be about equally likely to come from a White Irish, White Other, or minority ethnic group background, the report highlights: "An ethnic pay gap in Irish HEIs becomes apparent in most higher pay categories."

Staff from minority ethnic group backgrounds made up 17 per cent of those earning over €75,000, compared to 38 per cent of White Irish and 25 per cent of White Other respondents.

However, at the top of the scale White Other, White Irish and minority ethnic group respondents were found to be much closer in representation among workers earning over €130,000, each accounting for between 4-6 per cent.

The report also found that "ethnic diversity varies significantly by institution type", with just 9 per cent of staff in universities/technological universities stating they were from a minority ethnic group, rising to 13 per cent in colleges, but falling to just 3 per cent in Institutes of Technology (ITs).

When asked if staff believed they worked in an 'ethnically diverse institution', results also varied among different types of institutions.

The split was 50:50 in universities/technological universities, with half agreeing and half disagreeing, while 44 per cent of staff in ITs agreed compared to 56 per cent who disagreed. The largest cohort of workers who were in disagreement with the statement were in colleges (57 per cent), where just 43 per cent agreed that their institution was ethnically diverse.

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