Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Psychology) Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Science

Faculty

Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Associate Professor Andrew Guilfoyle

Abstract

First year transition to university for students’ is associated with significant adjustment to tertiary education practices and environment. Universities are frequently considering ways to support and improve this transition for students inclusive of mainstream and equity target groups. African refugees are one equity group that prioritises education and are concurrently experiencing pre-migration trauma and acculturation stress. However we know little about their experiences of support in transition to university. The aim of this present study was to explore the meanings ascribed by African refugees to their experiences of social support in transitioning to university. Semi-structured interviews were conducted on a sample of eleven refugees to gather data on their social support experiences in the transition to university. Using an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the data four major themes were identified: superordinate theme of resilience, which framed; pre and post migration impact; formal support and informal support. Interestingly, their optimism and resilience shaped their perception of social support and propelled them through the transition to university and acculturation process. Due to personal resilience and the desire to acculturate and be classified with mainstream students they were in less need and reticent of university support. Further research to understand refugee experiences of resilience, perceptions of support and equity are important for providing appropriate support in the first year transition to higher education.

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