The under-reporting of hate crime by university students: a mixed methods study to evaluate the perceived needs of students

Project Details


Reported incidence of hate crime in the UK has increased significantly following the 2017 Manchester terror attack. Evidence suggests that student populations are at increased risk of hate crime victimisation; the majority of students are of the age group who experience the highest number of hate crimes. Manchester currently hosts 80,000+ students in 3 universities. Incidence of hate crime victimisation among this population is unknown. This study used mixed methodology to identify the prevalence of hate crime, and to examine the impact of incidents on student wellbeing and academic performance, alongside barriers to reporting or seeking help following an incident.

Both in Greater Manchester and nationally, significant spikes in reports of hate crime were observed following the EU referendum result and in the immediate aftermath of the Manchester Arena attack. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority is currently developing a community-led Greater Manchester approach to challenging hate crime, which emphasises the authority’s role in prevention of hate crime and the promotion of social cohesion. However, no specific reference is made in this approach to the prevention of hate incidents amongst Manchester’s university student community, who represent 1.4% of the Greater Manchester population.
The university student population are predominantly aged 18-23 and are therefore of the age-group which experiences the highest number of hate crimes and highest levels of violence in hate attacks. Student’s social activities also reflect that characteristics that make young people more vulnerable generally, for example they are they are frequent users of public space and public transport where reported hate crimes are most likely to occur, and they may be exposed to much greater social diversity than previously experienced. The student environment also offers the opportunity for more frequent and intimate contact with people with a range of identities and ideas alongside organisations that politicise these.
The most significant source of data with regards to student experience of hate crime was collected by the National Union of Students, which found that 16% of all respondents experienced at least one form of hate incident whilst studying at their current institution. However, at present, little is known about the prevalence of hate incidents experienced by students at the University of Manchester including; where these incidents take place; the impact of incidents on the students’ wellbeing and academic performance, and barriers to reporting or seeking help following an incident.

The study utilises a mixed methodology approach consisting of a sequential explanatory design. A cross sectional study of student experience of hate crime is currently taking place. This consists of an online survey examining the experience of hate crimes, the impact on wellbeing, performance and other areas of life as well as the reporting behaviour. Data will be analysed using SPSS to provide descriptive and inferential statistics. Initial findings will guide a qualitative investigation of potential barriers to reporting hate crimes, via a series of semi-structured interviews and focus groups with identified ‘high risk’ student groups. The data produced will be analysed thematically, and will be guided by the steps outlined in both Braun and Clarke (2006) and Green and Thorogood (2014).

The study findings will help quantify the magnitude and impact of hate crimes at the University of Manchester. This will allow the university and Greater Manchester Police to ensure targeted and appropriate support is provided to student’s post-victimisation and will enable the effective and appropriate design of hate crime prevention strategies and reporting pathways to address hate crime on campus and the wider city region.
Effective start/end date1/07/1931/07/20


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