Access to higher education: reflections on a participatory design process with refugees

Oula Abu-Amsha, Rebecca Gordon, Laura Benton, Mina Vasalou, Ben Webster

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Refugees face significant challenges in accessing higher education. It is clear that new and diverse solutions are needed that both understand and address the contextual barriers to higher education access for refugees. In keeping with new approaches in the wider humanitarian community, which recognize the role communities can play in creating new education solutions, our organization sought to employ participatory design methods in the development of a new program to support access to higher education for refugees in the Middle East (mainly in Jordan and Lebanon). This note provides insights into the implementation of the participatory process and details the impact the participatory approach had on the design of our programs. Finally, we highlight the need for gender-balanced recruitment strategies and reflect on how the design of the participatory process benefited the participants and the initiating organization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-176
Number of pages21
JournalJournal on Education in Emergencies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • refugees
  • levels of learning - tertiary education
  • community participation
  • gender


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