Socio-cultural integration of highly educated Eritrean migrants in the UK

  • Samson Tsegay

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Located at the intersection of the fields of globalisation, migration and education, this study focuses on the socio-cultural integration of highly educated Eritrean migrants in the UK. The purpose of the research is to provide critical analyses of the lives of the migrants in their host country, with specific reference to their aspirations, challenges and strategies. Twenty-four highly educated Eritrean migrants participated in the study, with the findings presented in three interrelated chapters (Chapters Five, Six and Seven). The research shows that my participants are what Bauman calls ‘vagabonds’ who leave their country due to inhospitable circumstances. They reach their final destination following a long, costly and risky route, hoping to be granted asylum and start their lives anew within a very short time. However, delays in decisions over their asylum applications, the cultural differences they find between their lives in Eritrea and the UK, and the loneliness they face in their host country make them vulnerable, leading to anxiety and psychological distress. The participants of my study were all awarded refugee status and, therefore, indefinite leave to remain. Yet, the educational qualifications and language skills they hold are considered insufficient in the UK. Hence, they use their educational qualifications to gain additional knowledge, skills and experiences, which help them to integrate to their host country. Most of them go back to college to obtain a UK qualification, and opt to volunteer in various institutions to gain work experience in the UK. The findings also put family at the centre of the socio-cultural integration of the migrants and point that there is a close relationship between migration, family formation/relationships, and socio-cultural integration. This manifests in different ways -- both during and after migration. As indicated, the ‘vagabonds’ in many cases flee their country, leaving their family behind. In addition, Eritrean traditional culture and the migrants’ educational qualifications have significant effects on family formation and gendered relations.
Date of Award9 Jul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorSusana Castro-Kemp (Director of Studies) & Debbie Epstein (Co-Supervisor)


  • Globalisation
  • Eritrea
  • migration
  • integration
  • higher education

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