Researching transitions to distance higher education with students from refugee backgrounds: A case from the Sanctuary programme at the Open University

Charitonos, Koula; Gillespie, Marie; Graffin, Neil; Wilding, Colin; O'Malley, Olwyn; Al-Rashid, Ahmad; Martin, Shannon; Mutwarasibo, Fidèle; Babjak, Mahlea and Dancu, Lidia (2023). Researching transitions to distance higher education with students from refugee backgrounds: A case from the Sanctuary programme at the Open University. The Open University.

Abstract

The research project investigated the transition processes of students from refugee backgrounds as they enter higher education (HE). The aim of the project was to expand our understanding of the concept of educational transition: firstly, in relation to transitions to distance and online higher education among students from diverse educational backgrounds and experiences, and secondly, in relation to the nature of socio-cultural transitions involved for students with ‘lived experience’ of displacement, and precarious migration statuses (i.e. refugees, asylum seekers). The project explored the concept of transitions from these angles in order to assess its importance in creating inclusive institutional policies and educational practices. The research was conducted as part of a major initiative within the Open University UK - the Open Futures Sanctuary Scholarships. In doing so, this project contributes to the growing body of research examining the challenges of transition to higher education for diverse groups, and pre-requisites for promoting and enhancing access and participation to HE for displaced students.

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