Integrating refugee students into Ugandan higher education: Language, othering, and everyday enactments of participation

  • Gallagher, M. (Speaker)
  • Dr Rovincer Najjuma (Speaker)
  • Dr Rebecca Nambi (Speaker)

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This talk examines the everyday enactments of participation of refugee students in higher education in Uganda emerging from a collaborative research project. Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action was applied to determine how students accessed and responded to the dominant languages in higher education, further noting the acts of othering that occur throughout this process that impact participation and inclusion. We generated data through a survey with refugee students enrolled in four public and private universities, and 25 semi-structured interviews with refugee support organizations, university administrators and refugee students. The findings reveal that the social spaces within universities that allow for participation largely sit outside the formal curriculum. Also, language, especially the local dialect, was discovered to be a major tool for participation or otherwise in all university activities. Conversely, we identified some expressions of agency that suggested positive ‘actions’ within the dominant discourses. Recommendations are made to foster refugee students’ agency and institutional support for integration and meaningful participation.
PeriodNov 2023
Event title2023 SRHE International Research Conference: Higher Education Research, Practice, and Policy: Connections & Complexities
Event typeConference
LocationBirmingham, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • digital education
  • Uganda
  • refugee education
  • Global South
  • SDGs