From Syria to St Andrews

Haian Dhukan left Syria in 2012 to study his PhD in International Relations at the University of St Andrews.

Since then the ISIS takeover of Palmyra forced his family to flee – eventually reaching Southern Turkey with a caravan of refugees.

Today Haian graduated with his PhD following a thesis entitled: Syrian Regime and Arab Tribes: Informal Alliances and Conflict Patterns in Contemporary Syria.

He was joined by his son, who was born in the UK while Haian was studying.

Haian Dhukan - who graduated from his PhD in International Relations in June 2017 - with his son.

Haian said:

“My St Andrews experience has been amazing. When I came to do my PhD I didn’t expect that I would be graduating with my son here at the same time as well.

“I have loved every minute; I’ve made many friends here, life-time friends. I have travelled the world; I am just back from Rio de Janeiro where I gave a lecture and I have travelled to Japan, Australia, the United States and across Europe. It has been a fantastic experience.” 

A wheelchair user since childhood due to a physical disability, Haian has also used his time in St Andrews to highlight access issues faced by disabled people. He set up The St Andrews Access Group (SAAG), which has worked with the University’s equality and diversity officer to create a webpage called ‘Reporting accessibility difficulties across Fife’.

Haian commented:

“The University has made good progress in making many of their buildings accessible – they have done good work in the Students’ Association and the new cafe is wheelchair friendly.”

Work continues to ensure the St Andrews learning environment is accessible to all.