People seeking asylum in Australia face complex and significant barriers accessing higher education. Due to the temporary nature of their visa, their only pathway to university is being granted admission as an international student, which is financially prohibitive. This paper focuses on the lived experience of people seeking asylum with regard to accessing higher education, and identifies six major themes: the importance of accessing studies; the stress of struggling to meet living expenses while studying; mental health issues; support for people with disabilities, health challenges, and family responsibilities; the importance of language support and navigational brokers; and the role of higher education in the settlement of people seeking asylum. The research indicates that more university and community support is needed to foster access and participation, but the priority should be on addressing the Australian Federal Government policies that underpin the most significant barriers facing people seeking asylum in accessing higher education. This recommendation is most pressing in light of the re-election of the Coalition Government in May 2019, which has committed to continue these restrictive policies.
SOURCE: Hartley, L. Baker, S. Fleay, C. Burke, R. “‘My study is the purpose of continuing my life’: The experience of accessing university for people seeking asylum in Australia.” NTEU, 23 August 2019.
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