Despite high aspirations to pursue personal development, self-sustaining employment, socio-economic integration, and stable futures in their host, origin, or resettlement countries through higher education, intersecting legal, economic, linguistic, and sociocultural barriers severely constrain refugees’ options. There is limited research on how refugee students overcome these barriers to access higher education, particularly in displacement settings like Turkey, which perpetuates a deficit view of these learners. This chapter seeks to address this gap and challenge deficit ideologies through an asset-focused perspective on the stories of 10 Syrian young adults accessing higher education during forced displacement in Turkey using a composite narrative portrait crafted based on common experiences running across the participants’ individual narratives. The narrative illustrates the importance of equitable policies, quality language instruction, inclusive pedagogies, and supportive interpersonal relationships for young people aspiring to invest in their futures during displacement as well as the resourceful and dynamic strategies they devise. © 2023 by Emerald Publishing Limited.

DOI: 10.1108/S1479-367920230000045011
ISSN: 14793679