Connecting with students from new and emerging communities in social work education


  • Dale Wache University of South Australia
  • Carole Zufferey University of South Australia


social work education, new and emerging communities, African students, learning expectations, refugee experiences


Students from new and emerging communities enrolled in university can face a number of barriers to learning in the context of Australian higher education. It is important for social work educators to understand the challenges faced by these students as they work to improve their education and employment opportunities with the ultimate goal of helping their communities, and the Australian society. In the study reported here, semi-structured interviews were conducted in 2011-2012 with seven African students. Key findings from the study included that students were committed to improving their education for the betterment of their communities; their prior educational experiences did not always equip them for tertiary learning; computer use and online technology were particular challenges; and the formal supports provided by the university were not well accessed. However, informal peer learning groups were useful. The findings suggest that social and academic support and learning spaces provided by tertiary education institutions could be more inclusive of students from new and emerging communities. This aim of this article is to discuss the findings in order to increase understanding and improve teaching practices when working with students from new and emerging communities.


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