Forcibly Displaced Students in Higher Education

  • Lenner, Katharina (CoI)
  • Gill, Nick (PI)
  • Cheung, Sin Yi (CoI)
  • Lucas, Lisa (CoI)
  • Schafer, Isabelle (CoI)

Project: Other

Project Details


Education offers people seeking sanctuary hope, continuity and opportunities for recovery. Tertiary education, however, typically remains out of reach owing to low secondary school graduation rates (particularly girls), high fees, limited places, and lack of required academic certification.
Few British universities undertake educational outreach to displaced populations globally. Also, although 70+ UK universities offer scholarships to forcibly displaced students (FDS) already in Britain and over 20 are ‘Universities of Sanctuary’, there remain questions over how effectively FDSs can study, even after admittance to university. Inflexible curricula, cultural differences, resource constraints, and personal and family concerns present formidable learning barriers.
An international, multidisciplinary, long-term research programme is required to examine how universities in high GDP countries can improve refugees’ HE access. Building on our new working relationships and momentum, this initial research project represents a first step towards establishing that programme. We will use a small-scale research project to network and build relationships with each other.
Our research question for this purpose is: ‘how could the British personal tutoring system support forcibly displaced students more effectively?’ FDSs prefer the personalised support of a staff member they can trust, compared to other more formal types of support (Baker et al, 2018). Their relationship with their tutor is vitally important to their academic experience, especially for undergraduates (Schäfer, 2022). Research on the general British personal tutoring system establishes the importance of clarifying the personal tutor’s role (Yale, 2020), and the clash between what is expected of the personal tutoring system and its assigned resources (Prowse et al, 2021). Further research is needed, however, on how FDSs view their tutors and how the tutoring system can best support FDSs.

Through focus groups and a workshop, we will launch our community, inform institutional practices around FDS pedagogy, brainstorm and apply for further research funding.

Layman's description

In 2022 the number of forcibly displaced people (FDP) globally surpassed 100 million for the first time. Only 6% of the world’s eligible FDPs can access Higher Education (HE). Although an increasing number of UK universities promote the access of FDPs to HE, questions remain over how effectively they can engage, even after admission. Our network, formed of both scholars and university administrators at all levels, will i) generate research-informed innovations that improve FDPs’ access to HE ii) enhance institutional practices through interdisciplinary research and iii) disseminate best practices across GW4 institutions, the UK and internationally.
Short title13.600
Effective start/end date1/06/2331/12/23


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