From education to employment

The 44% discriminated against on your campus

Cailean Carvalho, Executive Director, SFS Media

Is your campus truly inclusive? 44% of your young people may disagree as they face weekly discrimination from your staff and other students.

When asking the nation’s youth about their experience of discrimination across schools and colleges, the results show, together, we must do more.

A massive 44% of UK 14 to 19 year olds have experienced discrimination and perhaps most shockingly, 53% of them have had this from a lecturer or staff member.

Of those that have experienced discrimination on campus 45% has been down to their ethnic identity, 29% for a mental health condition and 27% for sexual orientation. Beyond these leading areas of discrimination we tracked young people being targeted for disability, neurodivergence, religion/faith and gender identity.

Our national market research shows that discrimination hits demographics differently. 5% of UK teens identify as non-binary, transgender man or transgender woman, and they are twice as likely to be the victim of discrimination as cis-gender students. Those from the Black ethnic identity are 50% more likely to feel discriminated against compared to those of the White ethnic identity.

Perhaps even more concerning is the frequency of these incidents.

Those affected by discrimination from lecturers or staff is more than once per week

Across those affected by discrimination from lecturers or staff members, the average number of occasions in an academic year is 48, more than once a week on campus. An unpredictable element of our research is how this affects young people’s performance in their studies after an incident has occurred. There was an equal balance across the spectrum of those that felt it affected them so much they would lose the day of learning entirely against those that have taken so much discrimination, it now didn’t affect their studies.

74% of young people affected by discrimination on campus have felt it from students of the same age

74% of young people affected by discrimination on campus have felt it from students of the same age. A young person, on average, will have 89 incidents of discrimination across an academic year from fellow students, more than two per week.

Most frightening of all is the perception of those that are discriminated on campus today, against how they feel it will affect their future. 61% expect to be discriminated into university, 58% expect to be discriminated in a recruitment process and 48% expect to be discriminated against in the workplace. A lifelong journey of discrimination on the horizon down to their experience on campus.

Gen Z are certainly more focused on their individuality than the previous generation.

Gen A are on their way with even greater self-identity and expectations of inclusion. We are tracking 43 different gender identities, 40 sexual orientations and over 250 mental health conditions, disabilities and neurodivergent conditions on top of a spectrum of ethnic identities and faiths. It is a lot for staff to keep on top of in ensuring awareness and action to create an environment for everyone. Teens tell us consistently, they want to feel greater belonging on campus through acceptance from staff.

There are so many priorities for school and college leaders. I have long admired the impact FE colleges make on the communities they serve. With this evidence from the youth voice, we must do more to ensure dedicated inclusion pastoral care, effective all staff training and ongoing measurement to tackle discrimination on campus. Ensuring young people feel included and safe from discrimination, enabling focus on their studies and their best futures feels like a morality that we can all share.

SFS Media work to increase social mobility for UK young people with insights and media services for higher education, early career employers and commercial brands.

 By Cailean Carvalho, Executive Director, SFS Media

Related Articles