New Scots refugee integration strategy 2018-2022: evidence of integration

A study of existing evidence on refugee integration in Scotland to support the New Scots strategy 2018-2022.


Identifying Evidence

This report is the outcome of a 12 week project. This was primarily desk-based research (not producing its own data or evidence but reviewing the existing data or evidence).

The research has looked at academic journals, sector publications and also made use of the networks established within Scotland’s refugee and asylum support sector, particularly through the New Scots refugee integration strategy, to identify relevant sources.

There may be other evidence which has not been captured through this research. This could be due to the small scale of some projects or the means of publication and sharing of evidence, which in combination with the short time frame of this project made it more difficult to be discovered by the researcher. As a result, the evidence collected represents information which is relatively easy to access.

Evidence Identified

Evidence was considered to be anything which reports on the experience of refugees and asylum seekers, or evaluates projects, programmes and policies which support them.  In this way both qualitative and quantitative evidence was considered, as well as allowing for some policy documents or briefings which use examples and evidence to explain their position and can therefore inform practice.

This project did not have the possibility to evaluate the quality of any evidence presented in the bank, thus this report cannot make any claim on the quality, reliability or trustworthiness of the evidence included.

174 sources of evidence were identified.  These sources of evidence are set out as an annex to this report.  

The Geographical scope

The main focus of the project was on refugee integration in Scotland, so sources which specifically look at Scotland were prioritised.  As asylum policy is reserved to the UK Government, UK focused evidence which presents evidence on Scotland was also included.  

A limited number of highly relevant EU research or policy documents which include reference to the UK were identified by the project.  These are excluded from the findings chapter analysis but are referenced in the Annex. 

The project focused on Scotland and has therefore included all evidence identified which relates to Scotland. While it also includes sources which were about integration in the UK overall, any sources which were about specific areas in the UK, and don’t present any specific evidence relating to Scotland, have been excluded.

All evidence sources are included as an Annex to this report, grouped in the relevant categories referred to above and explained below.

The time period of the research

The project focused on documents published since 2000. This date was chosen because this was when asylum dispersal was introduced through the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. It is also post-devolution, so reflects a reserved policy in a devolved context.

A group of literature reviews have been included, in relevant categories, some of which include reference to research conducted before 2000.  These are included in the Annex to enable referral to previous research evidence over a longer period which was not considered directly within this project.  The literature reviews themselves were published within the time period of this research.


The approach to categorising the evidence for this study began with the themes of the New Scots refugee integration strategy. One of the seven themes in the New Scots refugee integration strategy, “Needs of Asylum Seekers”, has not been used as a category because this study aligns with the New Scots approach of integration from day one, and because evidence sources often do not differentiate between refugees and asylum seekers.  The remaining six themes are presented as the main focus in this report.

It was recognised that there would also be evidence which covered more than one theme.  When this occurred, if it was focused predominantly on one theme, it was categorised under that theme.  When it covered two themes equally or covered multiple themes, with no dominate theme, it has been categorised as “integration as a whole”.

As the process of searching for evidence progressed, more and more evidence was found which had a specific focus that did not fit closely with the existing themes and seemed better to have its own categories.  This included evidence which had a specific focus on people based on a particular protected characteristic and distinct policies like family reunion.  These categories are also referred to in this report and presented in the Annex.  Some of the additional categories have a low number of evidence sources (under 5) which are not considered in detail in this report. This group includes: women refugees (4 records), LGBTI refugees (1 record), older refugees (1 record), disabled refugees (3 records) and media (3 records).

The six themes in the New Scots strategy used in this report and presented in the Annex are:

  • Employability and welfare rights
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Language
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Communities, culture and social connection

Additional categories in the report and presented in the Annex:

  • Children and family reunion
  • Strategy and policy documents
  • Integration as a whole (covering multiple themes)
  • LGBTI refugees
  • Media
  • Migration statistics (Home office statistics)
  • Older refugees 
  • Disabled refugees
  • Women refugees

Quantitative research: 

Quantitative research explains phenomena by collecting numerical data that are analysed using mathematically based methods (in particular statistics)[1]. This type of research usually uses a large sample of participants, records or evidence which can be quantified and counted. It is used to answer questions such as ‘how many?’ and ‘how often?’.

Qualitative research:

Qualitative research uses non-numerical data and refers to the meanings, concepts definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols, and description of things, and not to their counts or measures.[2]  This type of research tends to focus on a smaller number of participants but can provide much deeper understanding of the question or situation.  Qualitative research tends to use interviews, focus groups, workshops, art-based research and other methods which cannot be directly quantified and counted.  It often enables more context to be provided which offers a strong narrative and explanation of what people have experienced and factors which have impacted this.  It helps to answer ‘why?’ or ‘how?’.

Mixed methods research:

Mixed methods research refers to that which uses both quantitative and qualitative methods.  Mixed methods are often used to enable more in depth exploration of the reasons for statistical trends by capturing lived experience or service delivery perspectives alongside the quantitative research. 



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