Within the Middle East and North Africa region, more than 5,600,000 Syrian refugees are currently registered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as seen here https://www.unhcr.org/. Amongst university-aged refugees, only a small fraction (Jordan – 8%, Lebanon – 6%, Turkey – 1%) are currently enrolled in higher education. This paper, based on empirical qualitative research with Syrian refugee youth, is a critical investigation into their access to, and experiences with, higher education opportunities provided for them by local and international partners. Using interview and focus group data, the paper examines the availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability of higher education opportunities currently on offer for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The paper argues that while access to higher education is increasing for refugees within the Syrian context, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability of these opportunities to the needs of refugees remains problematic. In this way, higher education often falls short of enabling refugees to live lives that they have reason to value.

DOI: 10.1177/1745499920926050
ISSN: 1745-4999