Mapping the complexity of the pathways available to students from refugee backgrounds into Australian higher education: Results from a nationwide cross-sectoral audit

Room 102
Alan Gilbert Building
Corner Grattan and Barry Streets


More Information

This event is presented as part of the Researchers for Asylum Seekers and Melbourne Social Equity Institute Seminar Series

This presentation will report on the results of one part of a multi-partner OLT-funded research project (University of Newcastle, Macquarie University and Curtin University), that is exploring transitions into and through higher education for students from refugee backgrounds (SfRBs).

From practitioner experience of working with SfRBs, we know that pathways (in)to, and requirements, processes and sources of support for/in higher education for SfRBs are not widely-known or understood. This is largely due to an often disconnected field of practitioners who support people from refugee backgrounds in the areas of health, settlement, education, social and community services, unable to meet, share and discuss what they know and, critically, what they don’t know. This leads to the dissemination of mis-information and missed opportunities about tertiary education pathways.

This presentation will disseminate the results of a national audit of the pathways of entry to higher education across Australia. The audit offers a detailed national and cross-sectoral overview of the different pathways and specialist support for SfRBs seeking to participate in higher education.


Sally Baker is the Research Associate for the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE) at the University of Newcastle. As an English teacher of many years, Sally has worked with students from refugee backgrounds in adult education contexts. Sally’s research interests include critical sociocultural explorations of language, culture and literacies, equity practices, and educational transitions.

Evonne Irwin is the Blended and Online Curriculum Manager, English Language & Foundation Studies Centre, University of Newcastle, following a career working as an English language practitioner since 2003 in the TAFE and higher education sectors.  Evonne is currently undertaking PhD research which seeks to examine the experiences of higher education staff working in ‘unbounded’ and ‘blended’ roles.

Seamus Fagan is Director of the English Language & Foundation Studies Centre, University of Newcastle, and has been involved in teaching and managing EFL/ESL and enabling education at an institutional level and a national level for more than 25 years. Seamus recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from English Australia

Mary Taiwo is the Widening Participation Research Officer at Macquarie University. As part of her role, Mary carries out various research activities that involves working with high school and university students from refugee background and/or other disadvantaged backgrounds. Her research interests focus on understanding the development of effective inclusive educational practices and teacher education

Shelley Gower is a PhD candidate in International Health, Lecturer and Research Officer at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine at Curtin University. She has previously been involved in research projects focusing on building nursing capacity in Tanzania, development of cultural competence in Australian nursing students and exploring the settlement experiences of refugee women through photovoice.