A RELATIONAL SOCIOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF SYRIAN STUDENTS’ EXPERIENCES IN OSMANIYE PROVINCE ON INTEGRATION TO HIGHER EDUCATION PROCESS

Syrian civil war, which has caused more than five million Syrians being forced to migrate to other countries since 2011, was the beginning of an ongoing process of uncertainty and change for the Syrians migrated to neighboring countries such as Turkey. With the changing condition of Syrians in Turkey from temporary position to a permanent one, integration of Syrians became a significant issue of concern for both sides. Considering the fact that one in four of the Syrians in Turkey are young Syrians who have to create a life and a future here, Turkey changed the education policy in the way to integrate them to Turkish higher education system. Integration to higher education policy is a mutual exit door for both sides to diminish the risk of a lost Syrian generation in Turkey and to create a hope for the Syrian youth for a better future. Along with these desired positive outcomes, integration of Syrian students to higher education also brings changes and challenges for both sides. In this study, the relational changes and challenges experienced by Syrian students in integration process to Turkish higher education are explored using a relational sociological approach. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 13 Syrian students (six women, seven men) who aged between 18 and 23 and who have been studying in Osmaniye Korkut Ata University. The experiences of Syrian students in our study reveal that attending higher education is a turning point of their lives in terms of having a chance to control the uncertainities surrounding them and having more space to increase their areas of agency. While their families and the teachers in Turkish Language Learning, Research and Application Center have been the most significant support mechanisms for them, there is still relational challenges they face in their interactions with Turkish students. To achieve a successful integration process, relational dynamics and psychosocial support mechanisms should be taken into account in educational policies.

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