Working Paper 62
Racism and Othering in International Higher Education: Experiences of Black Africans in England
Published April 2021

Although a cursory glance at the extant literature on ‘race’ and higher education reveals the racialized nature of the UK higher education sector, issues of racial discrimination rarely appear in UK research literature on the experiences of international students. Top university administrative positions, especially chancellor and vice chancellor, ‘remain a white enclave’ and only 85 of the UK’s 18,500 professors are black, and only 17 of them are women. Black women and men achieve the lowest percentage of first-class degrees (5.7% and 6.9% respectively, compared to 18.3% of white women and 19.4% of white men), and both black groups are over-represented in lower class degree categories. This study explored the role ‘race’ and racism play in the lived experiences of black African international students (BAIS) while they study and live in the UK. In particular, it analyses how three aspects of their identity – being black, being from Africa and being international (or foreign) shaped their experiences of exclusion through racism and Othering. The analysis draws on 21 semi-structured interviews with BAIS studying in ten different universities located in eight English cities. The findings show that racism and Othering pervade all aspects of BAIS’s lived experiences, both inside and outside the university. This study argues for the need to reimagine current unproblematized depiction of international education and the need to foreground ‘race’ and racism in research and scholarship on the experiences of international students.

You can read the full Working Paper here.