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NARRATIVES OF NAVIGATION: Refugee-Background Women's Higher Education Journeys in Bangladesh and New Zealand

Vivienne Ruth Anderson, Tiffany Cone, Naoko Inoue, Rachel Rafferty

Abstract


Navigating higher education (HE) is a complex exercise for many students, including those from refugee backgrounds. Internationally, only a very small percentage of refugee-background students access HE. In a 2018 study, we explored 37 women students’ narrative accounts of international study in Bangladesh and New Zealand. Our participants included 10 women from refugee backgrounds. Theoretically, our research was a response to calls from critical scholars to consider the different circumstances that shape students’ international study, and the ethical and pedagogical implications of these for ‘host’ institutions. In this article, we explore the refugee-background women’s accounts of accessing, navigating, and thinking beyond HE, and their thoughts on factors that support refugee-background students’ success in HE. We argue for the need to: reject ‘grand narratives’ in relation to refugee-background students; acknowledge students’ ‘necessary skillfulness’ while supporting their capacity to navigate HE; and recognise refugee-background students’ commitments and influence beyond HE institutions.

Keywords


higher education, refugee-background students, internationalisation, Bangladesh, New Zealand

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-id458