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Belonging as a Resource of Resilience: Psychological Wellbeing of International and Refugee Students in Study Preparation at German Higher Education Institutions


After 2015, several German higher education institutions (HEI) expanded their capacities for the study preparation of refugees. Nowadays, international and refugee students prepare for higher education degree programs through languages courses and subject-specific preparation courses at universities and colleges. So far, empirical research on refugee students’ wellbeing, in comparison to international students is scarce. This article elaborates on study preparation at German HEIs and refugee students’ psychological wellbeing. I focus on the mechanisms of subjective social exclusion/inclusion. I examine novel survey data from international and refugee students (final sample N = 904) by path analysis structural equation modelling. Results show on one hand that feelings of social exclusion reduce wellbeing, but on the other hand course belonging can function as a social resource of resilience for refugee students in study preparation. HEIs can strengthen feelings of social inclusion and psychological wellbeing of refugee students by fostering their belongingness in study preparation courses.

Published: 2019-12-16
Pages:36 to 44

Author Biography

German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW)
Germany Germany

Michael Grüttner is a researcher at the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) and works currently in the Projekt “Refugees' pathways to German higher education institutions” (WeGe). He studied social sciences and his main research interests are on (higher) education, social inclusion/exclusion, wellbeing as well as organisational and professional behaviour.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795