Higher-degree research being undertaken by Neriman Coskun




Professor Deb Hayes, Dr Alex McCormick and Dr David Hirsh

Thesis title:

‘When I was traversing education in search of a refuge’: Lived experiences of refugees in Australian schools.



Project description

The last decade has witnessed the highest increase in the number of refugees since WWII. Refugees have travelled across the borders to find a safe refuge and to rebuild their life mostly through education. Australia has been one of the top three resettlement countries that refugees have been placed in significant numbers (compared to other resettlement countries) through UNHCR since WWII (Karlsen, Phillips, & Koleth, 2011). Despite Australia’s long history of intake and the number of resettlements, its K-12 education is still problematic, complex and hardly addresses the needs of students from refugee backgrounds. The students’ specific needs are mostly invisible and ignored as they are considered as a group of newly arrived students such as economic migrants, guests and tourists who learn English as an additional language. Therefore, the students’ K-12 schooling experiences have not been understood adequately to address their specific needs.

This study aims to bring an understanding on the schooling experiences of people from refugee backgrounds to fill the gap in research and practice and ultimately to inform the policy. The study is a qualitative phenomenological study that utilises interpretive phenomenological approach in analysing schooling experiences of people with refugee backgrounds across Australia. It seeks to address the research question: ‘how people from refugee background make sense of their K-12 school experiences?’. The research findings bring a holistic view on K-12 schooling experiences that unravels the trends in challenges, changes and self-navigations of the educational system throughout the schooling time.

Neriman Coskun has been a teacher and a researcher in various educational settings from primary to higher education over a decade. She was formerly a primary school teacher and a research assistant in Turkey before commencing her PhD at The University of Sydney. She completed her first Master’s degree in Primary Education (Ataturk University, Turkey) to understand and improve her students’ social skills. She was awarded ‘Excellence in Teaching’ by Ministry of Education during this time. She did her second Master’s degree in International Education (University of Leicester, the UK) through seeking reform and innovation in international education.

Whilst undertaking her PhD at the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, Neriman has been a teaching member in Education I-IV and been involved in preparing various programs for the HDR community across the university.

Neriman enjoys café writing sessions, loves to swim in the ocean, and is always fascinated by people with extraordinary ideas.


  • Postgraduate Scholar Award by the Ministry of National Education/Turkey (2016-2019)
  • HDR+ Student Grants Award, The University of Sydney (2018)

Professional and community roles

  • Partner Liaison Member of HDR Connect project (2019)
  • Program Coordinator in Writer’s Band Aid Program (WBA), The University of Sydney (2018)
  • Tutor, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The University of Sydney (2018)
  • Program Coordinator in Teens Program, Australian Refugee Volunteers STARTTS, NSW/Australia (2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Program Coordinator Assistant in CoInEd Forum, The University of Sydney (June, 2018)

Conference presentations

  • Coskun, N. (2018). Searching a refuge in education: Global and Australian integration policies for refugees. Presented at the NewMac Conference 2018. University of Newcastle, Australia. 13 July 2018.
  • Coskun, N. (2018). “Then I said I am not a hobo but a lawyer”: Relationality in refugee-refugee interactions. Presented at the 46th Annual OCIES Conference. Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. 19-22 November 2018.

    Coskun, N. (2018). The Story of ‘me, my education and Australia’: Refugees in education. Presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Annual Conference. University of Sydney. 3-6 December 2018.