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Transitioning through education for young refugees and asylum seekers

Our research for Unicef UK examines the barriers to progression to further and higher education for refugee and asylum-seeking young people in the UK, and identifies potential solutions and good practice.

Unicef UK asked REUK to build on our earlier research, Education for refugee and asylum-seeking children: Access and equality in England, Scotland and Wales, and carry out research to:


  • Address the gap in relevant research

  • Build on existing evidence

  • Examine the factors that hinder and support refugee and asylum-seeking young people’s education progression in the UK

We adopted a mixed-methods, primarily qualitative, approach. Our research reports draw on the experiences of more than 500 young people and practitioners in the UK through 3 new data sources:

  1. Interviews and focus groups with refugee and asylum-seeking young people

  2. Interviews with expert practitioners

  3. Anonymised data from REUK’s education programmes


The research findings emphasised persistent barriers that intersect, accumulate and become increasingly restrictive as refugee and asylum-seeking young people attempt to reach further and higher education. The implications of immigration status on eligibility for funding, the lack of accurate and timely information and guidance, and poor mental health and psychosocial well-being were all challenges that could prevent young people from sucessfully progressing through education.


Despite these barriers, our research clearly demonstrated that education progression is achievable. Refugee and asylum-seeking young people's resilience and personal drive – as well as persistent support and welcoming educational environments – helped them to reach further and higher education.

Based on the findings of our research, we developed recommendations to a range of actors to help ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers are able to progress through education and reach their educational goals and further and higher education levels.

Read our report, Education transitions for refugee and asylum-seeking young people in the UK: Exploring the journey to further and higher education.


You may also be interested in reading:

  • The technical research report

  • Good practice case studies on supporting access to further and higher education

  • A set of practitioner advice sheets based on the research findings

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