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  • Titill er á ensku "Not giving up" : immigrant students finding their way in Icelandic higher education
  • Meistara
  • Útdráttur er á ensku

    The study focuses on the experiences of immigrant students in higher education in Iceland, for which the University of Iceland is the chosen setting. It explores how students with diverse ethnic backgrounds enter and navigate their way through higher education (HE). As such, immigrant students represent the population of study. Varied research suggests multi-ethnic students in western, homogeneous universities experience HE differently. In the studied setting, immigrant students have been overlooked by university support systems, as most of the attention is centred on exchange students, or those who attend for short terms. Thus, HEIs are not fully aware of the needs and experiences of students from different ethnicities. The relatively recent increase in multiracial immigration to Iceland supports this contention. Therefore, this study will help HEIs to adjust their practices correspondingly and understand better what are the students’ needs and how they perceive the social field of HE on a structural and socio-cultural level. Using ethnographic research design, I explore the connection of students’ background with their perception of HE and overall educational journey in Iceland. Bourdieu’s concepts of “habitus” and “field” are used to understand the unique cultural capital that each immigrant acquires. Interview data from nine participants and analysis of the UI policies suggest that there are inconsistencies and lack of clarity in the language policies and university practices. According to findings, apart from dealing with the notion of being “visibly foreign”, exclusionary practices are present on a subtle level where institutional actors succumb to old norms of behaviour, unconsciously failing to react to the rapid changes taking place in the composition of Icelandic society. This way, the participants’ narratives reveal that the process of adaptation is twofold. While it is evident that immigrant students search for ways to adapt to the field and succeed academically, the other side, the corresponding university staff, is still in the process of understanding the needs of the immigrant student population. As resilience is a powerful notion that unites studied group, the hindrances they come across must be taken into account and addressed accordingly by the relevant institutional actors.

  • Styrktaraðili er á ensku Rannsóknarsjóður Háskóli Íslands
  • 2.7.2020

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