Opinion: A rise in institutional racism or hidden in plain sight?

Black students nationwide are using social-media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to highlight and expose racism as they continue to be subjected to ongoing institutional racism.

Despite blanket endorsements promoting inclusivity and diversityBritish universities are failing to recognise and tackle racism and have become hubs for social and racial apartheid.  

Although protective laws such as the 1965 Race Relations Act, a landmark legislation designed to address racism in 1960 Britain are in place, racism still prevails in 2018.

With the rise of far-right parties such as Britain First how effective are the existing laws created to address national inequality and how can changes be implemented to represent a 21st century multicultural Britain?

Considering the number of reported and unreported cases it is no surprise that a recent study found that black student drop-out rate at university is 1.5. times higher compared to any other group.

Data from Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) indicates 10.3% of black students drop out of university compared to 6.9% of whole student population.

Figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in February 2018 showed an although underrepresent at university level, the number of black students has grown by 12,650 between 2012-17.  


Image: Suban Abdulla

A concerning and contributory factor is also the lack of diversity in academic syllabuses and Higher Education professors.

Currently the system is failing to represent the growing ethnic minority in Britain and there is a lack of understanding and ability to relate to organisational and institutional racism, cultural and financial issues Black students face.

In 2016 black students organised a walk-out of an annual NUS meeting due to institutional racism.

For every step forward Britain seems to be taking two steps back as is showcased by the increasing number of cases involving student racism.

Recently a student at Exeter University posted the racist, sexist and religious intolerant content of a WhatsApp group message on Facebook exposing five male law students at the university.

A Black student at Nottingham Trent University resorted to hiding in her room as students in her dorm were chanting “We hate blacks” outside her door.

At Warwick University a black student found racial remarks written on bananas at her student dorm, a staff member was cleared of intentional racism and a student was exposed for his leading role on a Facebook hate group.

A Bournemouth University student was called a “Big black ape” after a snapshot of her Instagram post was posted in a racists group chat called ‘Crew’ and a former student had an employment offer revoked for wearing braids.

The need for a systematic overhaul and legal reform signifying the illegality and consequences of racial abuse and hate crimes is more evident.

Organisations and educational establishments should also adopt mandatory and ongoing  training about the needs of ethnic minorities, which should be monitored to ensure compliance and transparency.

Britain has a long road ahead if it wants to dismantle a culture of white privilege and spineless apologies and sympathetic sentiments of understanding will not suffice.


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