More than one third (35%) of staff at third-level institutions from minority ethnic groups were subject to racial and/or ethnic discrimination on campus or in the course of their work, a new survey has found.

The first ever race equality survey commissioned by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) found that while higher education institutions in Ireland are "collegial workplaces, yet more could be done to address discrimination based on the ethnicity of staff".

Most respondents (72%) identified as White Irish, while 17.5% described themselves from a White Other background. 8.6% of respondents described themselves using other ethnic categories.

There was a larger proportion of staff from minority ethnic groups earning less than €60,000 a year (66%) when compared to White Other (58%) and White Irish (45%).

People across all groups observed that ethnic minority staff experienced discrimination in regards to promotion and career opportunities.

Respondents recalled specific instances where they were subject to racial discrimination, and also recounted experiences of subtle or covert forms of unfair treatment, or microaggressions, rather than outright discrimination.

More than half of respondents (52%) said they had never seen or heard the use of racist language on campus or online, while 27% said they rarely have seen such instances. However, staff across all ethnic groups described witnessing racial or ethnic discrimination against ethnic minority staff.

The survey was conducted in late 2020 and early 2021, and all staff working in higher education institutions in Ireland were invited to participate. The number of respondents was 3,323.

Dr Ross Woods, the senior manager of the HEA centre of excellence for equality, diversity and inclusion, said: "Now that we have an evidence base, the HEA can work with institutions to prevent rather than react to problems in this area and to keep pace with wider demographic changes in Irish society."