PhD Higher Educational Aspirations of Refugees and Newcomers in Belgium

Fulltime PhD-scholarship: Higher Educational Aspirations of Refugees and Newcomers in Belgium

Research topic

Interface Demography, Department of Sociology, has a vacancy for a PhD scholarship in the framework of a 4-year research project (From Camp to Campus) on social investment in higher education for refugees and newcomers, in collaboration with other Belgian research teams. The research examines the perspective of (potential) users/students from the refugees and newcomers target group. Hence the study will investigate issues relating to access to higher education, refugees’ and newcomers’ aspirations, anticipated careers, needs related to their experiences in and within Belgian higher education system. This multidisciplinary PhD project PhD will provide a unique opportunity for the student to engage with research in higher education, integration, and migration studies.

Job description

We expect you to prepare a doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Tuba Bircan in the fields of Sociology, in which you:

  • work on development, implementation, and analysis of a comprehensive multilingual survey to map the potential demand for higher education services among refugees and newcomers,
  • assess new sampling approaches such as social media advertising,
  • conduct qualitative, participatory research on obstacles in higher education and their remedies, and analyse the qualitative data.
  • publish your research in internationally peer-reviewed outlets.

You are expected to support the project related work such as prepare policy reports and and actively disseminate the research results.

Job requirements

  • Master in statistics, data science, economics, mathematics, computational social science, psychology or social sciences with a strong quantitative focus with excellent study results, whereby you have acquired demonstrable expertise in (advanced) quantitative analysis.
  • Familiarity with survey design and sampling.
  • Solid hands-on experience with programming (R, Phyton, etc.) and/or statistical software (i.e., STATA, SPSS, etc.).
  • Have knowledge of, or a willingness to familiarise yourself with current research into new and innovative data science techniques.
  • Interest in research on equal opportunities and migration and integration studies is a plus.
  • Excellent oral and written English skills is a must. Proficiency in one or more of the following languages: Arabic, Dari/Persian, Russian, Ukranian, Turkish is a great asset. Knowledge of Dutch is not obligatory but an asset.
  • Excellent social and communication skills required to work in a team and establish relations with NGOs and governmental services in Belgium.
  • Female candidates and members of ethnic minority or refugee groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

We offer

  • A 4-year fulltime PhD-scholarship, renewable on a yearly basis
  • A monthly scholarship depending on the academic work experience.
  • Full reimbursement of (public transport) commuting expenses in Belgium.
  • A dynamic and stimulating research environment.
  • Suggested (but not fixed) starting date: November 2023

Applying for this job

Deadline for application: 21 August 2023.
The applicants will be informed by the 28th of August 2023 whether they are invited to the interview. Job interviews will take place on the 8th of September at the Campus Etterbeek of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (online participation is also a possibility for international candidates).
Your application must at least include the following attachments:

  • A curriculum vitae
  • A motivation letter
  • A copy of your master thesis in English
  • A copy of your detailed study results (and if already available a copy of your master diploma)

Your application should be written in English
Apply by sending an e-mail to Prof. Tuba Bircan.

For more information, please contact Prof. Tuba Bircan (