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(In)validation and (mis)recognition in higher education: the experiences of students from refugee backgrounds

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Students from refugee backgrounds face unique challenges within higher education. This article reports analysis from a systematic review of qualitative research which aimed to explore these students’ experiences. Four databases were searched, inclusion/exclusion criteria applied and the remaining studies subjected to a quality assessment, leaving eight studies. The research adopted meta-ethnography as a method of data synthesis. An overarching theme of invalidation was identified within our synthesis of the research literature. We express this as a line-of-argument synthesis comprising seven metaphors, which aim to illustrate the ways in which refugee-background students’ higher education experiences can be understood as (largely) invalidating. Drawing on a range of literature, we argue that despite education’s potential for being an egalitarian, empowering and validating environment, the experiences documented in the research literature are conceptualised as relationally inegalitarian and an instance of ‘misrecognition’ of a group of students. This misrecognition appears to occur within and across the various micro, meso and macro social systems in which the students are situated. The implications of these findings for education are discussed.
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Keywords: Higher education; migration; misrecognition; refugees; relational equality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

Publication date: July 4, 2017

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