Assessing the needs of the refugee community in Dundee accessing higher education

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Lead Organisation:
University of Dundee
Award Amount:

This project seeks to engage with the refugee community in Dundee, to determine the community’s need to access higher education. The project team will work with the community, with support of key agencies, hearing their needs and establishing how these needs could be met. For example, refugees who need to access pre-sessional English Language classes in order to meet entry requirements, or for younger refugees being able to have an on-campus visit to demystify what universities in Scotland look like.

Key Information

The main outcome of the project is to establish the needs of the current community in order that the University can proactively progress its connections with the community, as it is a university of the city and takes its commitment to its values seriously. It is envisaged that there can be ‘quick wins’ at the outset and the project findings will provide a platform from which the University can develop further.

Key Information

Geographical reach



02/09/2021 – 30/09/2022

Target Groups

Younger people, Refugees, Asylum Seekers

Project Type

Supporting innovation


The idea for this project came from a Humanitarian Scholar who is supporting the university to develop its submission to become a University of Sanctuary. The university’s Humanitarian Scholarship programme offers funded support for refugees across the world to come and study for a one-year postgraduate course, or a three-year PhD programme. Many of our scholars come from Palestine. In addition to engaging with learning, the university provides additional ‘welfare’ support.

It is envisaged that refugees will be as involved in the project as they choose. There will be no pressure or burden to engage with the project for refugees. From initial conversations with Dundee City Council staff, the University is fully aware that the refugee community have been ‘researched’ a lot already. In no way does the University expect refugees to share their lived experiences prior to living in Dundee, unless they choose to, and the project’s focus is on the current needs and future aspirations of study at university level.

Involvement of New Scots in project

We were able to draw from the comments and suggestions from our current refugee group to shape the project delivery.


Due to staff illness and a delay to the start of the project, we were not as successful as had been hoped; however, I we do believe that there is still a lot of work that can be done collaboratively within the city and that this would include a focus on those with protected characteristics.

Our initial objective of inviting local refugees to come to campus to explore higher education was achieved. Whilst we had two groups attending, it was very worthwhile having young people experience the campus and received some branded goods.

We were able to develop a new initiative of a demystifying higher education resource for prospective students locally, nationally and internationally. This guide has been printed in English and has been translated into Ukrainian and Arabic.

Challenges encountered

There has been nothing that has been a challenge in terms of it being insurmountable, rather we have honed our reflexive skills.

The positive aspects of taking on a new approach

There has not been a specific aspect of our approach that is new, as we utilised a community development approach, and this has enabled us to work with refugees making information more inclusive for their needs.


We found that higher education is more popular than we first thought and that there is a need to accredit previous employment/educational experiences to enable new refugees to continue with their professions – e.g. doctors, dentists, engineers etc.

Our main recommendation would be to employ the community development approach when seeking to work with people.

Further Information

We have developed our Refugee Guide which is a local, national and international resource, and we could develop this in collaboration with the other key educational institutions within the city. This, of course, would require resources.