A national review of the participation of people of refugee background in higher education
Initial findings from a study commencing in 2014 by the University of Melbourne’s Social Equity Institute highlight significant gaps in the higher education sector in terms of policy and programs in place for people of refugee background in Australia. The study, Supporting Outreach, Recruitment and Retention Of Students From Refugee Backgrounds, indicates a need for a wider and national investigation into the participation of students of refugee background in higher education.
Dr Les Terry, Research Fellow and Coordinator of the Melbourne Refugee Studies Program, a Vice-Chancellor’s Special Initiative, has recently been awarded funding by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) to conduct this important work.
“It is clear from a survey of the literature, as well as from discussions with senior staff at the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, that to date data relating to the participation of students of refugee backgrounds in higher education have not been properly investigated,” said Dr Terry.
“Since 2009, Australia has granted more than fifty thousand visas under its offshore Refugee and Special Humanitarian Programme, with participants in 2013-2014 coming from Africa (10.4%), the Middle East (58.5%) and Asia (31.0%). These students come from non-English speaking backgrounds, and a substantial number of them fit within the low SES category. In addition, and as a result of their visa requirements, many are residents of regional areas.
Our project will result in a comprehensive national overview of the situation, providing a solid basis for better-targeted equity policy and action on issues affecting students of refugee background within the university system.”
Dr Terry’s project, a collaboration with Dr Ryan Naylor from the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, is one of 12 funded via the NCSEHE’s 2015 Student Equity in Higher Education Research Grants Program. The project is scheduled to conclude in December 2015, after which time the final report will be made available here on the NCSEHE website.