University Transition Challenges for First Year Domestic CALD Students from Refugee Backgrounds: A Case Study from an Australian Regional University

Author: Eric Kong, Sarah Harmsworth, Mohammad Mehdi Rajaeian, Geoffrey Parkes, Sue Bishop, Bassim AlMansouri, Jill Lawrence

University of Southern Queensland

Edition: Volume 56, Number 2, July 2016

Summary: Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) is used broadly and inclusively to describe communities with diverse language, ethnic background, nationality, dress, traditions, food, societal structures, art and religion characteristics. Domestic CALD people are either refugees or voluntary migrants and have obtained permanent residency or citizenship. This paper identifies the key issues, challenges and needs of first year domestic CALD students from refugee backgrounds at a multi-campus regional university in Queensland, Australia. The term refugee background is used in the paper as the students are no longer refugees having successfully transitioned from refugee status to being permanent residents. Qualitative data was collected through one-on-one semi-structured interviews and focus groups with domestic CALD students from refugee backgrounds, and from key informants including teaching, administrative, and senior management staff members. Other than language and differences in education styles, this cohort of students faced other challenges, particularly in a regional setting, including socio-cultural issues, technology issues, family and health challenges and limited staff awareness of refugee needs. The findings provide insights into how Australian regional university policy makers could develop effective strategies, practices, procedures and policies to support CALD students from refugee backgrounds and to improve their retention and progression.

Keywords: Domestic culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) students, refugees, Australian regional university, higher education, equity

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This article is part of AJAL, Volume 56_2. The entire volume is available in .pdf for purchase here.

Posted in Higher Education, Refereed article