- 20 Mar 23
In endorsing these principles, college presidents will commit to integrating a culture of race equality into their institutions' strategic priorities.
Colleges will be asked today to agree to a set of anti-racism principles aimed at recognising racism in Irish higher education, and committing to working towards a culture of race equality.
The principles are based on research that has highlighted the problems of racial and ethnic discrimination faced by minority ethnic staff at Ireland's universities and colleges.
The study, conducted by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) found that over a third of minority ethnic staff in third-level institutions have faced racial or ethnic discrimination either on campus, or online over the course of their work.
The report also concluded that these staff members were less likely to have permanent contracts, and more likely to earn less than €60,000 per year when compared with their white colleagues.
With the aim to “harness the power that Irish higher education institutions have as leaders of positive change in society to challenge racism and race inequality”, the HEA plans to launch their Anti-Racism Principles for Irish Higher Education Institutions.
These principles, according to the HEA, have been developed through higher education stakeholders and under the advice of the Athena Swan Ireland Intersectionality Working Group.
Third-level education presidents will be invited to sign and endorse the principles. In doing so, presidents will acknowledge that race inequality is still an issue present in Irish higher education and that racism, although-context specific, remains a problem in Ireland.
Speaking on the report, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has said, “Diversity remains a key strength of our higher education system.”
“I welcome the leadership shown by our higher education institutions in tackling racism and acting as a beacon for other sectors of society. The publication of the Anti-Racism Principles is a significant development and delivers on one of the key actions in the recently published Race Equality Implementation Plan,” he continued.
"By adopting these principles, Ireland and our higher education sector is sending out a clear message to the world that we are an inclusive society that promotes the values of equality, diversity and respect."
Reiterating the HEA’s commitment to the advancement of race equality in higher education, chief executive Alan Wall has also commented on the report.
“The publication of Anti-Racism Principles for Irish Higher Education Institutions is another landmark moment for the sector," said Mr Wall. "The onus is now on our higher education institutions to endorse these important Principles and associated commitments."
The report, which was published in 2021, includes personal submissions from staff members, detailing their experiences of abuse, stereotyping, and in some instances, the failure to be recognised for their work.
The issue of “microagressions” was defined as brief and sometimes unintentional exchanges which disparage those from minority ethnic backgrounds.
Another “huge issue” highlighted was language, with staff complaining that despite their fluency in English, they have faced criticism and incorrect corrections due to their accents. Another problem which arose within this was the doubt in their expertise when compared to their colleagues’, by staff and students, facing “fact-checking” from both.
Descriptions of overt encounters of racism and discrimination included the use of racist language, being told to "go back to" their own country and, in one particularly horrifying instance, a student putting swastikas on their clothing and goose-stepping through campus.