HDR Scholarship - School Engagement of African Heritage Students

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'School Engagement of African Heritage Students'.

Project Supervisor

Additional Supervision


Melbourne Burwood Campus

Research topic

Addressing the problem of school disengagement is of great importance. In Australia, school disengagement is a ‘hidden crisis,’ and the problem is even deeper among refugee youth such as those from African backgrounds. Educationally disengaged youth are at greater risk of unemployment, poverty, risky health behaviours, and social withdrawal. This PhD project is part of a larger Australian Research Council (ARC) funded four-year Future Fellowship project investigating the issue of school engagement among African heritage students from refugee backgrounds. The Future Fellowship project aims to advance an innovative approach to understanding and improving school engagement of refugee students. The findings of the project will:

  1. Inform policy, school practices, and community services.
  2. Enhance the educational attainment of refugee students.
  3. Make a theoretical contribution to equity research in the sociology of education.

The PhD project associated with this Future Fellowship will investigate school engagement among refugee students. The candidate can choose one or more of the fellowship's five interactive inquiry domains. These are sectoral policies, school practices, biographical contexts of students, parental engagement, and community-based educational services. The PhD project may involve interviewing students and their parents, visiting schools, and reviewing relevant policy documents. The exact nature of the PhD project will be developed in consultation with supervisors Dr Tebeje Molla and Prof Amanda Keddie. The PhD will provide opportunities for the candidate to present and publish with the principal supervisor Dr Tebeje Molla as part of the project outcomes. This research is partially funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council.

Project aim

The overarching aim of the Future Fellowship project is to address the problem of school disengagement among African heritage students from refugee backgrounds. To this end, the project:

  • analyses the framing of school disengagement as a policy problem,
  • explores school practices,
  • documents student and parental experiences, and
  • observes community-based educational services.

The PhD candidate can focus on one or more of these directions of inquiry. The project seeks to innovatively expand the analytical space of school disengagement by drawing on conceptual resources from education, sociology, cultural studies, social and educational psychology, and social welfare.

Important dates

Applications will remain open until a candidate has been appointed


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $33,500 per annum tax exempt (2023 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years. Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

How to apply

Please apply using the expression of interest form


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Dr Tebeje Molla  

Dr Tebeje Molla
Email Dr Tebeje Molla
+61 3 524 79397