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Understanding and Overcoming Barriers: Learning Experiences of Undergraduate Sudanese Students at an Australian University

An increase in migration of Sudanese and South Sudanese people to Australia due to civil unrest in their home country has increased the numbers of Sudanese students at university. Migrant experiences, particularly those of English as a second language, can impact negatively on education and learning. Inconsistencies between student scores on assessments and oral abilities in class prompted an exploratory project to identify barriers to success and create appropriate resources for students. The project utilised a multi-method approach to explore the experiences of the Sudanese students (n=22) enrolled at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia. Two quantitative scales examined motivations for learning and English Language Confidence. Interviews or focus groups explored the students’ perceptions of their learning and university experiences. The findings indicate that students are extrinsically motivated to study, confident in their language skills but required additional support to improve their written English. The barriers include socio-political factors unique to Sudanese students. Finally recommendations to assist these students are presented.

Funding agency

ECU Teaching and Learning Grant

Project duration

January 2015 - December 2016


  • Gately, N., Ellis, S., Britton, K., Fleming, T., (2017), Understanding and Overcoming Barriers: Learning Experiences of Undergraduate Sudanese Students at an Australian University. International Journal of Higher Education, 6(2), 121-132, Toronto, Canada.


Dr Natalie Gately
Ms Suzanne Ellis
Ms Katherine Britton
Mrs Tina Fleming

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