Melissa Matar

Thesis title:

Examining the Policy Network in Higher Education in Emergencies: The Case of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon.


After the onset of the Syrian conflict, Lebanon alone is hosting the largest number of refugees worldwide relative to its population (UNHCR, 2021) with 1.5 million Syrians along with 257,000 Palestinian refugees (UNHCR, 2021). Today, only 5% of refugee youth worldwide have access to higher education compared to a global average rate of 40% among non-refugees (UNHCR UK, 2022) and only 6% of Syrian refugees residing in Lebanon are entering university compared to about a quarter of college age Syrian youth prior the conflict (El-Ghali et al., 2019). Higher education is extremely difficult to access for Syrian refugees in Lebanon due to many socio-political factors (Fincham, 2020). In Lebanon, various inter-organizational partnerships have been established to provide education for Syrian refugees which resulted in a variety of global, regional and national policies reflecting a mass proliferation of policy actors’ engagement in Syrian refugee education. This represents a multifaceted dynamic between domestic, regional, international, public and private actors, forming a policy network in the domain of refugee education (Zakharia et al., 2022). This research focuses on the formation of a policy network in Lebanon in access to higher education for Syrian refugees. It aims to understand how it is formed, enacted and contested in emergency contexts and hostile environments. It also seeks to address how the current policy practices may lead to unintended effects on the refugees’ journey in accessing higher education by stressing on the complexities of the local, regional and globalized policy environments in which the different policy actors collaborate (or not) in their response to the crisis.

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First supervisor:

Professor Aisha Hutchinson


6-Education, Mind & Society