Along with the growing number of refugees in Europe, especially after the refugee crisis in 2015, there is a growing demand to empower the newcomers to integrate and participate in their new societies effectively. Education is seen as an essential element of integration and participation in society. However, refugees face many obstacles to access and cope with the educational systems in their new societies such as unfamiliarity with these systems and the lack of social community for them at schools. The last few years have witnessed a new notion of digitally active refugees who use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and social media to search for information through different networks and to establish connections with the host society. This study investigates how this digital activity contributes to refugees’ social inclusion as well as their education and access to it. This research explores the role of ICTs to support the education and integration of refugee students through the case-study of the UAF mentoring program. In the Netherlands, the Dutch Foundation for Refugee students (University Assistance Fund UAF) facilitates refugees’ access to higher education and help them overcome the educational barriers in order to improve their integration process. This organization saw in social support a key for social inclusion and integration. Consequently, UAF developed the mentoring program to support the integration process of refugee students into higher education. This research builds on the qualitative analysis of twelve in-depth interviews with UAF’s mentors who are Dutch students and mentees who are refugee students pursuing higher education in the Netherlands. Based on the social capital theory along with the capability approach, this research shows that ICT-based technologies and especially social media empower refugees greatly in the process of their education and social inclusion. The research proposes that social networking sites such as; YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp serve as capability enablers for refugee students in the Netherlands to; 1) participate in education; 2) practice social and professional networking; 3) maintain social ties; 4) participate in debates/society; 5) keep updated. Based on these capabilities by way of social media use, refugee students exert their urgency for education and social connectedness in order to regulate their current socio-economic status and eventually acquire social inclusion.

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Paz Alencar, A.
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Khalifeh, Alaa. (2019, July). Inclusive digital media for refugees through education: A case study of the UAF’s mentoring program. Media & Business. Retrieved from