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Golaleh Makrooni: How did first-generation migrant family students succeed on their educational journey to and in higher education?

Tampere University
LocationCity centre campus, auditorium K103 of the Linna building (Kalevantie 5, Tampere) and remote connection
11.11.2022 12.00–16.00
Entrance feeFree of charge
Doctoral researcher Golaleh Makrooni in front of a fall scenery.
Previous studies have shown that first and second-generation migrant students have less success in schools and universities than local students. At the same time, we have also seen successful students of migrant backgrounds. In her dissertation, MA Golaleh Makrooni studied the perceptions and experiences of first-generation higher education students from immigrant families in Finland (FGMFS) who have been successful in attaining and studying in higher education.

Considering the increase in migrant families, especially in Western countries with opportunities to high-quality education, and the cross-cultural context this presents, it has become crucial to understand how students from immigrant families experience and perceive their education. In her study, Golaleh Makrooni shows what obstacles and challenges FGMFSs have faced in their educational journey, what potentials and abilities they have, what they think and feel, and how they have successfully achieved their goal of studying in higher education.

Firstly, the study found the importance of openness to FGMFSs, as well as that of strengthening the relationships amongst educational institutions (particularly teachers), families, and Finnish friends and families to support them in the years prior to university. Secondly, the study showed that FGMFSs recognise differences between their home and host society, and that learned skills, such as critical thinking, have led them to adopt innovative and adaptive strategies to overcome their challenges. They have also come to view higher education as a means of self-empowerment. Thirdly, the findings revealed that a sense of belonging as academic learners and citizens in Finland plays an important role for FGMFSs in pursuing their goals. This is reflected in their perseverance and hard work to achieve their goals, which the study categorised as functioning.

Taken together, openness, empowerment, belonging, and functioning were understood as a negotiation and repositioning process.

“The repositioning happened through a continuous negotiation with oneself and with other people from the environment, as well as with the intercultural context,” Makrooni explains.

Subsequently, the process supports first-generation migrant family students to reposition and become successful in the intercultural context throughout their educational journey. Thus, Makrooni’s study provides valuable findings for considering how the education system can better understand and support FGMFSs on their educational journey to and in higher education.

The doctoral dissertation of MA Golaleh Makrooni in the field of education titled First-generation migrant family students in higher education on their educational journey in Finland will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Education and Culture at Tampere University at 12 o’clock on Friday, 11 November 2022 in the auditorium K103 of the Linna building (Kalevantie 5, Tampere). The Opponent will be Professor Indra Odina from the University of Latvia. The Custos will be Professor Eero Ropo from the Faculty of Education and Culture.

The dissertation is available online at

The event can be followed via remote connection (Panopto).

Photo: Mehrshad Borhan