Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet)

Bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland

An update on the project: ‘Moving on? Integration and onward migration of dispersed refugees in the UK’

Emma Stewart is Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde.  Her research on forced migration has included examining the exclusion of asylum seekers, evaluating UK dispersal policy and uncovering the problems facing refugee doctors. Marnie Shaffer is Research Associate in the School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde. Her research has included examining Somali women’s economic lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and Columbus, Ohio in the US.


Emma’s long-standing interests in UK dispersal policy and the integration of refugees culminated in the Onward Migration project, an ESRC funded study that started its two-year run in October 2012. Marnie enthusiastically joined the project team in May, eager to put years of post-graduate training to good use. Since that time, we have been working on a number of tasks to get the project up and running.

The Onward Migration research project aims to further understanding of refugee integration in the UK by focusing on the migration decisions of refugees who have been dispersed around the UK. The rationale of UK dispersal policy was to ‘spread the burden’ of housing asylum seekers across the UK and discourage long-term settlement in the South East. While most studies have critiqued the policy for being part of restrictive UK asylum apparatus and the negative outcomes for individuals, our interest here is to investigate the impact of a policy regime that determines the geography of refugees’ movements on long term integration.

The key research objectives are:

  1. To map the geography of onward migration amongst dispersed refugees across the UK.
  2. To explore the main factors that influence individuals and/or households to migrate (or not) and how this impacts upon the process of refugee integration.
  3. To consider the policy implications for different levels of governance, service providers, and the voluntary sector, in terms of the impact of UK dispersal upon refugee migration and integration.

We are addressing these questions through quantitative analysis and in-depth interviews with refugees across the UK, focusing on refugees living in Glasgow, Cardiff, Manchester, and London. The findings from this research will be of interest to academics, policymakers, and local service providers.

Of our accomplishments to date, we are extremely proud of the success of our Advisory Group meetings.  We are fortunate to have assembled an expert panel for our project Advisory Group. Not only have members provided invaluable feedback for each phase of our research, but they have also trekked to Glasgow and Birmingham from all over the UK – and some during their summer holiday! – to participate in meetings. The most recent gatherings were held in June, taking place at the Universities of Strathclyde and Birmingham, to discuss Emma’s preliminary quantitative data analysis results and to prepare Marnie for conducting in-depth interviews with refugees as we begin the qualitative phase of the research. It was great to see familiar faces and to meet others in person for the first time, but most exciting was the stimulating discussion about the research. We walked away from both meetings full of fresh ideas and endless possibilities. As we consider all of the helpful comments and suggestions provided by the group, we already look forward to the next meeting sometime in the spring of 2014.

A key point of discussion at the June Advisory Group meetings was the quantitative data analysis. To begin data collection for the project, Emma has been working with the Survey of New Refugees (SNR) and the Glasgow Refugee Integration and Employment Service (RIES) database. We are exploring these databases to determine what increases or decreases the probability of refugees moving town or city, and to inform our approach to the interview sampling.

While this remains a work in progress, Emma’s quantitative analysis has uncovered several significant variables that influence the probability of onward migration, which will be important for sampling during the qualitative data collection. The key variables are:

  • Country of origin – the top ‘movers’ are nationals from Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Zimbabwe, and Sudan
  • Gender
  • Human capital
  • Time in the UK
  • Accommodation
  • Social and cultural connections
  • Health

As we prepare for interviews with refugees in each of the four cities, these criteria will guide our recruitment strategy and line of questioning.

For more information about the research, please contact the project co-ordinator, Dr Emma Stewart, at You can also visit our project website and like our Facebook page. Regular updates in relation to the project will be posted on both sites.


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This entry was posted on July 29, 2013 by in Blogs and tagged , , .
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