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You are reading: Supporting school-university pathways for refugee students’ access and participation in tertiary education

OLT-funded case study report written by Associate Professor Loshini Naidoo (University of Western Sydney), Associate Professor Jane Wilkinson (Monash University), Dr Kiprono Langat (Charles Sturt University), Dr Misty Adoniou (University of Canberra), Dr Rachel Cunneen (University of Canberra) and Ms Dawn Bolger (University of Western Sydney)

Executive Summary

This report examines the barriers and challenges faced by refugee background students transitioning from Australian secondary schools to university. As part of a larger Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) funded cross-institutional study between University of Western Sydney (UWS), Charles Sturt University (CSU), and University of Canberra (UC), it focuses on three main educational regions—Greater Western Sydney (GWS); Wagga Wagga and Albury (regional NSW); and Canberra (ACT). The three regions were chosen specifically for their demonstrated experience in providing targeted programs for refugee students, their significant refugee support programs with schools in the local area and their unique refugee populations.

According to the Bradley Report (2008, recommendation 4), universities need to increase the enrolment of low SES students by 2020. Many students in the low SES category are of refugee or migrant backgrounds. However, there appears to be a disconnect between the intercultural vision universities have for working with their diverse student cohort and the teaching and learning practices within the curriculum, which do not reflect the same vision.

The educational system is one of the first institutions that young refugee background students encounter when settling in Australia. Differences in language, schooling systems, cultural and societal values, along with unfamiliarity in their new country of settlement can present barriers and challenges for many refugee background students entering Australian educational institutions (Earnest, De Mori & Timler, 2010).

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Support for the production of this report has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.

Naidoo, L., Wilkinson, J., Langat, K., Adoniou, M., Cunneen, R. & Bolger, D. (2015). “Supporting school-university pathways for refugee students’ access and participation in tertiary education”. Report funded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. University of Western Sydney, Kingswood, NSW, Australia.