A formal inquiry into racial harassment at universities is being launched by the country's equality body.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said the move followed concerns it has received about incidents affecting staff and students.

There was also a link between being made to feel unwelcome and attainment, which may contribute to the lower qualifications achieved by ethnic minority students, said the commission.

Publicly-funded universities across Britain will be required to provide information about the processes they have in place to support staff and students who have experienced or witnessed racial harassment.

David Isaac, chairman of the EHRC, said: "Racial harassment of any kind is abhorrent, divisive and entirely unacceptable.

"There's no place for it in society and the level that we have seen occurring within universities is particularly concerning, especially when it has a detrimental impact on student attainment and leaves staff feeling ridiculed or undermined.

"Everyone must have the opportunity to reach their potential through education. Universities must have systems in place to stop racial harassment being a stumbling block to educational achievement and ensure that victims can obtain redress."

The commission will publish its findings and recommendations by autumn 2019.

By Alan Jones