Chinese students facing racial discrimination

Chinese students living in Ireland are being racially discriminated against and exploited, it emerged today.

A new study found young people who moved to the state to study English often work two low paid jobs to fund course fees and loans leaving them with no social life.

Visa restrictions are also preventing students from staying on in Ireland after their studies, hindering their chances of learning the language and benefiting from international work experience.

It is estimated around 15,000 Chinese currently live in the state, arriving alone from as young as 18 years. Many more are believed to be undocumented.

Researcher Dr Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain said the report gives a voice to Chinese students and reveals they are much more than just streams of revenue for Irish educational institutions.

She said the majority of those interviewed work long hours in addition to studying, with some saving for further education courses or sending money home to China.

The bulk of students are in lower paid service jobs such as catering and cleaning, and were afraid to report racial discrimination for fear of having their visa revoked.

And although many find the Irish warm and friendly, others experienced discrimination on a daily basis and find it difficult to adjust to our socialising and drinking culture.

“They are working 12 hours a day, and trying to go to school, and their English is not improving that much,” said Dr King-O’Riain.

“Most won’t even go home for Christmas because of the hassle of getting a re-entering visa. They have to queue for hours and pay an extra €100.

“They don’t really have a lot of free time, but when they do the social life is different here, there is no pub culture in China.

“At language school they are not having a lot of contact with Irish people.”

Around 25 people were quizzed for the report, which was carried out for the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism’s Community Profiles Series.

It recommends the promotion of intercultural dialogue and greater student supports such as providing free English class to young students in order to realise this objective and calls for racist attitudes towards the Chinese community to be tackled.

Dr King-O’Riain added: “We propose that when their student life is finished here and they are high skilled workers their visas be extended by two years which both they, and we, would benefit from.

“China is going to be very important in the next few decades, these are the prime people to link Ireland to China, yet we are sending them packing once they finish their degree.”

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