This article uses a refugee centred approach to explore experiences of belonging through higher education. It is based on fieldwork conducted during the fall of 2019 in Gaziantep, Turkey. This article aims to understand the factors that form refugees’ sense of belonging and the degree to which the contextualized experiences of refugee youths influence their sense of belonging in the university. Interviews with participants suggest that various autobiographical, relational, cultural, and legal factors can foster in refugees a sense of belonging through campus experiences. At the same time, some participants indicated adverse experiences and a weaker sense of belonging due to the same factors. The university campus offers them relatively equal status as local students in a home-like, comparatively diverse, and welcoming place where their interactions with locals and peers increase. For some participants, their student identity facilitates their belongingness beyond the borders of the campus by empowering them. For others, university is another space where they experience a feeling of otherness. The results suggest that their experiences of belonging are relative, complex, and multidimensional.

DOI: 10.1093/jrs/feab055
ISSN: 0951-6328