'Everyone sells this image of a welcoming society' – Racism and international students in Ireland – Irish Examiner

Almost 40% of English-language students also reported that they had either seen racism or been victims of it here, with it happening on public transport, on campus, from neighbours, and sometimes from groups of youths. 
Many international students report experiencing racism while studying here, but lack trust in the authorities to report it, new research suggests.
Four out of 10 (40%) international higher education students taking part in a major study report experiencing racism here, either as a victim themselves or witnessing it.
Almost 40% of English-language students also reported that they had either seen racism or been victims of it here, with it happening on public transport, on campus, from neighbours, and sometimes from groups of youths. 
Just 5% of students said they chose to report these incidents, with language barriers and a lack of trust in authorities cited as barriers they faced.
Many students also reported that they had experienced or witnessed racism from groups of youths, and expressed their frustration at the apparent lack of consequences facing young perpetrators of racism. The findings are included in a major report to be published today by the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS), documenting the experiences of international students studying during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Surveying more than 750 English-language and higher education students, it found that racism, mental health and overcrowded accommodation are among the major issues they face. 

Almost 80% of the students taking part said their mental health suffered as a result of the pandemic, with many citing experiences of isolation, depression, and anxiety, as well as difficulties accessing adequate mental health support.
With Covid-19 further reducing limited employment opportunities, restrictive visas, and employers’ poor understanding of different types of work permits  also heavily impacted the ability of international students to support themselves financially. Many students also reported the low availability and high cost of accommodation as significant challenges, especially as they can only work part-time for 20 hours a week. 
One student taking part in the study reported paying €450 in rent per month to share a house with 10 other people. Another student reported moving out of a five-bedroom house they were sharing with 15 other people in order to improve their mental health. 
One student, named only as ‘Lorena’, said she had been in Ireland for 16 months. “We share beds and rooms, we pay a lot of money, we pay for practically everything, and yet we are not respected. I think this is very sad because I never imagined this reality before coming to Ireland. 
Everyone sells this image of a welcoming society. With the existence of Covid or not, that wouldn’t change. My experience was not positive.
Laura Harmon, executive director of the ICOS, said it is particularly concerned about the high instance of experiences of racism, most of which go unreported. “Based on our research findings, ICOS has developed a series of recommendations, which we urge policymakers and the higher education sector in Ireland to consider and implement.” 
This includes the construction of student accommodation, changes to immigration policies and visa permissions, and the implementation of anti-racism policies by all higher education institutions. 

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