Student migrant, refugee or both? Exploring refugee agency and mobility through tertiary education in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda

Ayla E. Bonfiglio

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

665 Downloads (Pure)


Tertiary education institutions in resettlement and asylum countries across the world are asking what role they can and should play in responding to today’s forced displacement crises. Exploring and better understanding opportunities within higher education to provide pathways to protection should be a priority. Studies on education migration show that education is a key driver of movement in most societies. It is also known that refugees perceive higher education as crucial to rebuilding their lives in host countries. Therefore, this research set out to understand: if a person’s higher education was interrupted, prevented, or simply not possible in his or her home country because of conflict, crisis, or persecution, how might the prospect of higher education elsewhere then play a role in that person’s decision-making about where and how to seek asylum? Examining the journeys of Congolese and Somali refugees and migrants, this study finds that higher education impacts how refugees and migrants planned the timing of their exits from origin countries, their choice of destination, and the legal or irregular channels they used to enter and settle in destination countries.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • Skeldon, Ron, Supervisor
  • Zetter, R., Supervisor, External person
Award date20 Feb 2020
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Print ISBNs9789463807012
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • refugees and migrants
  • Higher education
  • Mobility and decision-making
  • Forced displacement patterns
  • Refugee education
  • International student migration

Cite this