Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER)


Research by the Equality Challenge Unit found examples in the UK ranging from subtle exclusionary acts and behaviours to overt racism in the workplace.

These included being:

  • the subject of negative comments related to international status
  • assigned greater workloads than UK colleagues
  • given fewer responsibilities/duties than UK colleagues with the same or less experience, particularly in relation to research and teaching opportunities
  • placed on a lower salary range than UK colleagues of equivalent level
  • under greater scrutiny for work performance, actions and travel movements
  • given less support in relation to pursuing and/or being allocated research opportunities and funding
  • receiving less recognition of previous educational and professional experience
  • excluded from the decision-making process or discussions
  • provided with inferior office space compared with UK colleagues of equivalent level and/or segregated from UK colleagues
  • offered fewer opportunities for promotion or career progression
  • having experiences of discrimination or prejudice dismissed by line manager

Conscious and unconscious discrimination and national stereotypes permeate the way staff are perceived by their colleagues and students. The ECU recommends that HEIs should develop an institution strategy to create an inclusive culture, which could be connected to existing equality and diversity objectives and policies. This can be supported through unconscious bias training to help institutions consider how accent, nationality and ethnicity may affect behaviours and decision making.

As the ECU observes, international staff are going to face specific issues connected to their own identities and background. For example female international staff are likely to have a different experience to male international staff, international staff who are from a visible minority ethnic group are likely to have a different experience to those who are white.

Here are some practical resources you can use for improving support for international researchers within your institution.

For institutions:

Areas to be included in Training:

If your institution participates in the Erasmus scheme, you can also apply for funding for staff training. This is available for both teaching and non-teaching staff and can cover:

  • teaching periods – staff deliver teaching at another Higher Education Institution (HEI) abroad
  • training periods – staff undertake a training event or undergo job shadowing/observation/training in a relevant organisation abroad

For more information, visit the Erasmus website.