Why British Asian Students Receive Negative Media Coverage

In the first ever study of its kind, researchers from the University of Surrey examined 185 newspaper articles to analyse media reporting of minority student groups.


British East Asian students are more likely to face racism, and media tend to have racial undertones in their reports of the community as compared to East Asian students community. The findings emerge from a study, believed to be the first ever of its kind, in which researchers from the University of Surrey examined 185 newspaper articles to see how the two minority groups are reported in media.

“It is worrying to see how these two groups are portrayed differently in the media, and shows that the media is still heavily biased towards certain groups. British East Asian in particular are singled out for negative coverage”

Professor Rachel Brooks from the University of Surrey was quoted as saying by ScienceDaily.

‘Fortunate’ to be studying in UK

While talking about the East Asian students, primarily from China and India, who have come to the UK, media tends to present the UK education system in a favourable light in comparison to their international rivals. Most articles inferred that these students are ‘fortunate’ to be studying in such an environment.

“Whilst East Asian students are portrayed positively in the media due to their monetary value, British East Asians are subject to negative coverage containing racist undertones. This can in part be explained by the ‘temporariness’ of East Asian students stay in the UK, which is not seen as a threat to Britishness, but it highlights a tendency towards ‘reverse racism’,” said Prof Brooks.

The British East Asian students tend to receive negative media coverage on various accounts. The media focused on ethnic tensions within UK schools and the issue of ‘reverse racism’, whereby acts of discrimination and prejudice were perpetrated by racial minorities. Media tends to believe that “many schools are unwilling to tackle racism on the part of Asian students towards white pupils”.

‘Pushiness’ of Parents

The difference in parenting and the attitude towards learning among British East Asian parents was also subject to criticism in the UK media. The media highlighted the ‘pushiness’ of this group in regards to academia. Concerns were also raised in some articles that the phenomenon of ‘tiger mother’, a term that refers to a strict or demanding mother who pushes her children to be successful academically, was spreading into English society.

The East Asian students, however, are not subjected to this sort of racism. The media is careful in acknowledging and accepting the economic benefits generated by East Asian students, who typically pay higher tuition fees than their UK counterparts in the education system. Their presence was usually favourably reported with figures highlighting the income to the government.

Researchers believe that the study highlights a tendency towards ‘reverse racism’ and the perception in media about the ‘temporariness’ of East Asian students who are usually not seen as a threat to ‘Britishness’ in UK.

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