Reported by BBC News – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission says some institutions are “oblivious” to how big the problem is.
The commission warns that harassment can take many forms and can have a serious effect on its victims.
Scottish universities have described the findings as “stark and challenging”.
The report says there are also examples of anti-English sentiment expressed at Scottish universities.
However, the report contains few specific details of this and suggests that particular problem is more commonplace in Wales.
The experience of racial harassment was reported by a wide range of students and staff at universities across England, Scotland and Wales.
Researchers heard from 571 staff and 845 students across the three nations.
What do the students say?
One UK student at a Scottish university said: “My confidence was completely knocked so I just hid away and tried to focus on my courses.”
Another said: “I often tried to act more “white” and I used to conceal the fact I speak Cantonese and was embarrassed by my ethnicity. I now have mostly international friends at university who are all very accepting and have helped me again be proud of my identity.”
The report also highlights harassment’s impact on mental health.
One said: “As someone with a pre-existing mental illness, it’s difficult to express how much these incidents contributed to a relapse which I had later that year. It was easier for me to isolate myself and not interact with others even when I really needed support because of how close I was to my perpetrators.
“I withdrew a few months after those incidents and returned to my home city.”
The figures suggest incidences of racial harassment are lower among students at Scottish universities than at institutions in England. However, the report says this may reflect the fact that England has a more ethnically-diverse student population.