This article reports the results of a systematic review on displaced and refugee-background students’ transitioning and (re-)integration into European higher education (HE). A total of 7082 studies have been assessed for eligibility in six languages. Forty-four empirical studies conducted in 14 countries of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) between 2014 and 2021 met the inclusion criteria. Evidence from these studies has been extracted, appraised for quality, and synthesised to advance our understanding of how best to support refugee-background students’ HE aspirations. The main contribution of this article is a comprehensive review of support measures and recommendations in nine key areas that were identified as having particular relevance for successful HE participation: recognition of qualifications, entry requirements, reach and relevance of educational offer, costs, precarity and vulnerability, language, transitioning and skills mismatch, resource poverty, and (un)welcoming environments. The reviewed evidence is relevant in varying degrees to higher education institutions across the EHEA and can inform the delivery of targeted responses to refugee-background students’ needs on both HE entry and throughout their educational journey. The article also exposes important knowledge gaps that should be prioritised in future research and highlights some common lessons regarding cross-sector collaboration, long-term planning and support, and the need for a continuous monitoring of student pathways. A novel aspect of this systematic review is also its multilingual search strategy which was designed to correct for the geographical bias toward research produced in Anglophone countries which is often a by-product of English-only search strategies in education research.

DOI: 10.1080/00131911.2022.2085670
ISSN: 0013-1911