The attacks took place in the Canley district of Coventry, very close to the University of Warwick campus.
West Midlands Police said that they received multiple incident reports while one of the students, speaking to CoventryLive, suggested that over a dozen students have been affected.
“Students have a right to study without their safety being compromised”
Another student described how she had been bitten, and went on to say: “I was scared to go out by myself, even to the reception. I had friends, if I wanted to go buy some food or something like that, I’d ask them to accompany me.”
“What we are concerned about right now”, said another student, “is how should the Chinese and other international students be safely studying around the University of Warwick.
“This is not the first time the same kind of hate crime happened. It’s also about our property as well as our personal lives.”
Police have responded to the attacks by increasing the number of patrols in the area, with the West Midlands Police and Crime commissioner David Jamieson, promising to liaise with senior officers to help prioritise the matter.
Describing the attacks as “shocking and appalling”, Jamieson said that the students have a right to study without their safety being compromised.
“These young people travel half the way around the world and pay a lot of money to learn from the brightest minds our country has to offer. They also contribute significant amounts to the local economy,” he added.
Meanwhile, the response from the University of Warwick has been to both provide a shuttle bus service “as requested by the students” and to offer alternative accommodation in some cases.
Director of Press and Media Relations at University of Warwick Peter Dunn said that the university was “in close contact” with the students affected and that they were “reaching out to West Midlands Police, relevant local authorities and community members to see how we can work together and what can be done to support them and to address their very serious concerns.”
Dunn also told The PIE News that “the universities full range of counselling and other welfare and well-being support is also available to those students.”
Meanwhile, the University of Warwick Students’ Union president, Liam Jackson, told The PIE that the SU had been “working proactively with the University and our community partners to try and resolve some of the issues while offering support to those students affected.”
“In particular, we will be communicating the relevant Hate Crime reporting channels to students living in the area and creating an awareness campaign advising students of their rights,” he added.
Jackson said that, in the longer-term, the SU would lobby the local authorities for “greater resources and support for students living in the Canley area, as well as working on bystander intervention in the local community.”
“We fully investigate any unacceptable behaviour and take appropriate action to safeguard our students”
Nearby Coventry University told The PIE that they were “saddened to hear that students are concerned about their safety in Coventry. Students choose to study and live here because it is a modern, culturally diverse, vibrant city.”
Senior Media officer Tracey Saunders added that Coventry University had “a zero tolerance policy towards any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination against our students and staff” and that incidents could be reported anonymously online.
“We also have a 24-hour protection service available to students living in our accommodation. We fully investigate any unacceptable behaviour and take appropriate action to safeguard our students,” she said.
ProtectED, the UK’s ‘gold standard’ accreditation scheme for student safety, security and wellbeing has published a specific Code of Practice for HEIs in relation to the safety and wellbeing of international students, which can be viewed here.