Homeless university students: Experiences with foyer-type service

Marty Grace, Deborah Keys, Aaron Hart

Abstract


Some young people who have been homeless during their secondary schooling manage to obtain a university place. These young people, and others who become homeless during their university courses, have the opportunity to build a sustainable exit from homelessness through education and support. Very little is known about how many young Australians are in this situation, or what can be done to assist them to complete their degrees. This article reports on research that aimed to document the experiences of 11 university students who had experienced homelessness. The research focussed on the difficulties that these young people faced, and the types of environments and service responses that can make a difference for them. The students were part of a larger study of a foyer-type service. The research found that these young people took longer than the standard duration to complete their degrees. Their study was facilitated by provision of stable, safe accommodation and support when they were acutely homeless, relief from other pressures such as family conflict, protection while maturing, time for overseas born including refugee young people to develop language, skills, and resources, support to heal from past damaging experiences and improve their health, assistance to gain entry to preferred university courses, and pathways into stable housing for the duration of their study.

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