IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


New research into Afghan resettlement outcomes in England

31 January 2024

IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society will lead a new project to assess the Afghan resettlement schemes in England and provide insights into how Afghan people are navigating the processes of settling into new housing, workplaces, and local communities.

Flag of Afghanistan on an antique suitcase. Credit: Sezerozger / Adobe

The project, “Afghan resettlement in England: outcomes and experiences” is being funded by a £268,792 award from the Nuffield Foundation. 

The project will be led by Dr Caroline Oliver, an Associate Professor of Sociology at IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society. Dr Oliver will work with research teams from the London Metropolitan University (Professors Louise Ryan and María López) and Middlesex University (Dr Janroj Yilmaz Keles). 

Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, over 22,000 people, a substantial proportion of whom are children, arrived under two official resettlement schemes operated by the UK Home Office and its contractors. The schemes aimed to relocate and assist those who had worked with or for the UK government and/or UK Armed Forces in Afghanistan, as well as vulnerable Afghan nationals and those most at risk of human rights abuse. 

The research team’s priority is to gather robust evidence on outcomes of the resettlement schemes, including collecting data on Afghan refugees’ employment, income, and housing experiences. It will also examine impacts of the combined pressures of the current economic climate and the broader hostile environment and growing anti-immigration measures adopted over recent decades. 

The work builds upon existing research by Dr Oliver on local authority and community responses to refugees, as well as work by Professors Ryan and López with Islington Council into the challenges faced by the Afghan community in London. 

The wide geographical reach of the new project includes large cities like London, Liverpool and Birmingham, as well as smaller towns in the south-east of England. 

The research will raise awareness inside UK government, local authorities, strategic migration partnerships and NGOs of disparities in how these schemes are experienced in different regions and create actionable insights to improve the resettlement experience.  

The project also hopes to develop new conceptual understandings of how resettled people ‘embed’ into the environments receiving them. 

It will pay particular attention to the experiences of different demographic groups, with a specific focus on those most at risk including women, young people and ethnic and religious minorities. 

Dr Oliver, who co-directs IOE’s Centre for Sociology of Education and Equity and UCL’s Migration Research Unit, said:  

“This research will provide us with an urgently needed picture of how the resettlement schemes are working for the many Afghan families across England who moved following the extraordinary scenes witnessed in the summer of 2021. 

We are pleased to be working in close partnership with Afghan families and communities, local authorities, strategic migration partnerships and NGOs to gain a broader understanding of the experiences and inequalities faced by Afghan evacuees, and the vulnerable groups within.  

We aim to use this vital knowledge to inform improvements in the schemes’ implementation and provide independent evidence to guide policy implementation and its future development”. 

Dr Catherine Dennison, Programme Head for Welfare at the Nuffield Foundation, said: “The Nuffield Foundation is delighted to fund this important study by a consortium of researchers with distinct but complementary expertise.  

By independently evaluating how the resettlement scheme is supporting Afghan individuals and families, the project will provide much needed guidance to inform local and national practice.” 

The 18-month project began in January 2024 and is scheduled to run until June 2025.  

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Credit: Sezerozger / Adobe.