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Disability in higher education : a key factor for improving quality and achievement. Higher Education to 2030: What futures for quality access in the era of globalisation? Paris-8-9 December 2008 Serge Ebersold. Why look at disability in higher education (HE)? .

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Disability in higher education : a key factor for improving quality and achievement

Higher Education to 2030:

What futures for quality access in the era of globalisation?

Paris-8-9 December 2008

Serge Ebersold


  • Why look at disability in higher education (HE)?


An increasing number of SEN students in Higher Education

  • United Kingdom : from 2% of the student population in 1994-95 to 6.5% in 2006

  • France : from 695 SWD registered in 1981 to 8 763 (0.4%) in the year 2006-07.

  • Sweden : + 125% between 1993 and 1999.

  • Germany: from 16% of total student population in 2003 to 18.9% in 2006.


A growth reflecting a diversification of students’ profile at higher education

  • Inclusive education policies increased the number of SEN students eligible for HE.

  • Democratisation of HE has increased the number of students that may be at higher risk of failure and drop out.

  • Internationalisation of trade and career paths has increased the proportion of foreigners in HEI (+8% a year since 1998).

  • The spread of lifelong learning opportunities increased the number of students returning to HE to maintain their employability.


A diversification reflecting the role of higher education in development of human capital

  • Access to higher education improves access to employment

    • In 2003, in Norway, the employement rate of those SWD who accessed tertiary education was 7.8% higher compared with those who only completed secondary education.

    • In 2004, in England the employment rate of those SWD who completed their 1st degree was close to that of non-disabled students (57.4% compared to 61.2%)


  • Access to higher education allows for maintaining employability through mobility :

    • Fosters a dynamic relationship to learning

    • Allows for openess to lifelong learning opportunities;

    • Improves the ability of individuals to cope with changes and transition periods


A diversification, requiring HEIs to cope with a diversity of needs to be equitable

  • Diversity of needs and rhythms behind diversity of profiles

    • Students from modest backgrounds feel less comfortable with educational and occupational choices and may require support and/or accommodations.

    • Foreigners may lack language skills and require accomodations or supports.

    • Older students may require some support and/or accommodations to combine academic requirements with family or professionnal requirements


  • There is an increasing access to tertiary education but there are weaknesses


  • Access may not reflect personal choice:

    • In the USA, PWD are four times less likely than non-disabled students to be admitted to long courses or enroll in institutions offering a first postgraduate course.

  • Programmes of study have weaker links with the employment sector:

    -France (2006):languages or humanities (36% SWD compared to 32.3% of non disabled students)


    • SWD are more likely to face difficulties in achievement.

      • In the Netherlands, 50% of SWD fall behind in their studies, are more likely to drop out, and are twice as prone as their non-disabled peers to discontinue their undergraduate studies

    • SWD tend to have more erratic pathways within tertiary education

      • In Germany : SWD disproportionately change their study programme (23% compared to 19%) or institution (18% compared to 16%) and drop out (20% compared to 13%).


    Receptiveness to diversity depending on the concept of disability that is adopted


    A medical approach of disability (France, Switzerland)

    • Access to HEI of SWD is low: 0.4% of total student population in France

    • Disability is related to an « inability » resulting from an impairment as medically certified.

    • Needs assessment is medically or socially based : mainly made by doctors or social workers


    A medical approach to disability

    • In France, those considered as « disabled » are those having a medically certified disability. Of those with disabilities enrolled:

      • sensory deficiency (24.7%), physical deficiency (19.8%),

      • health problems (20.6%), psychological disorder (11.2%),

      • literacy problems (8.2%) , temporary incapacity (5.3%).

    • Diversity is constrained due to a minority of students

    • Educational needs approached as a marginal phenomenon


    A developmental approach of disability (United kingdom, Canada (Ontario)

    • Proportion of SWD in HE is higher : 6.5% of total population in UK in 2006 and 8.9% in Ontario in 2001.

    • Disability is viewed to a need to be met in the context of the aims followed by the curriculum


    • Those considered as « disabled » includes those having educational needs beyond an existing impairment

      • In England : dyslexia 43% of total SEN students in 2006

      • In Denmark : difficulties in writing 66% of total, SEN students in 2006

      • In Ontario : Learning difficulties in Ontario 47.9% of total SEN students in 2001


    A developmental appoach of disability (ctd)

    • Diversity is a key issue to be met by institutions, a means for each student’s success

    • Diversity is related to the diversity of educational needs

    • Accessibility is a means for each student’s success and is part of HEIs strategic plan


    A relationship to disability impacting on HEIs relationship to quality and effectiveness


    A developmental approach of disability fosters quality and effectiveness

    • Includes pedagogical and social issues in accessibility

    • Refers quality to the enabling effect of teaching methods and accommodations for all students

    • Individualisation is a means for fostering each student’s success (Needs of SEN students are those of many non-disabled students)


    • Fosters admission strategiesto tkae needs into account and evaluation procedures allowing for identifying the diversity of needs to be met. In the UK:

      • The proportion of students suspected of having a disability fell from 33.9% of enrolled students in 1995 to 2.2% in 2004

      • Students with learning difficulties rose in UK from 15% in 1994-1995 to 43% in 2006.


    • Leads HEIs to provide appropriate teaching and effective support for achievement

    • Proportion of SEN students attaining a first class honours degree : 5.4% in 1994 to 9.2% in 2003;

    • Achievement of upper second class honours : 35.6% in 1994 and 43.4% for 2003-04.

    • Numbers of post-graduate SEN students rose from 10.5% in 1994 to 17.2% in 2003-04.


    A medical approach restricts ability to focus on quality and effectiveness

    • Accessibility, as a means to compensate the disabilities of a few students.

      • Accessibility is reduced to physical access and additional time for examination.

    • Prevents from developing appropriate supports and accommodations.

      • Only 7% of french universities make a formal assessment to define and implement accommodations and support.


    A medical approach restricts ability to focus on quality and effectiveness

    • Delivery of supports and accommodations can be neither individualised nor evaluated:

      • Accommodations and support are delivered according to a level of incapacity instead of an educational need

    • Access to HE depends on students’ ability to cope with the requirements.

      • One HEI employee is responsible for support and accommodation and not a service and often feels left alone

      • SEN students have lower chances to complete undergraduate courses, especially those with a psychological or health problem or a temporary incapacity


    A medical approach restricts ability to focus on quality and effectiveness

    • Inhibits including success and transition issues in quality assessment.

      • No precise and reliable data on students achievement, pathways to higher education and transitions to employment.

      • Access to HE depend on students’ ability to cope with the requirements


    Disability at higher education, a source of dynamism and innovation for HEIs


    Enrolling SWD encourages change in HEIs

    • Appropriate admission strategies and continuity of support require links with upper secondary education.

    • Procedures allowing a cross-sectoral approach and complementarity between education, employment and welfare provision have to be developed to allow students to meet academic requirements.


    Enrolling SWD encourages:

    • Procedures to be developed for coordonnating general and vocational education for building appropriate pathways.

  • The adaptation of teaching methods to individuals’ needs requiring HEIs to use new technologies and diversify teaching methods (distance learning, ICT).

    • Open University in UK


    • Develop links with the economic sector:

      • University of Toronto works with economic sector on computer accessibility

      • HEIs develop links with employers for facilitating access to internship

    • Become a resource centres for the community :

      • University of Grenoble acts as an accessibility resource center for the city

      • University of Leeds develops admission strategies for students from lower socio-economic background


    Enrolling SWD encourages:

    • Breaking of the barriers between academic and non- teaching staff

      • Teaching staff may identify educational needs

      • Administrative staff identify pedagogical adaptations that may be required

    • Rethinking teaching methods used by academic staff

      • The adaptation made for a SEN student may be available for all students


    Beyond short term constraints, disability at higher education is an added value

    • It reveals Higher education institutions’ ability to :

      • meet diversity issues;

      • focus on quality and effectiveness,

      • be innovative and embedded in community


    Disability at higher education

    • Leads HEIs to define themselves as learning organisations fostering innovation

    • Leads HEIs to consider acessibility and receptiveness as a mean for quality and effectiveness

    • Requires HEIs to include transition to tertiary education and to employment in quality assessment


    Pathways for students with disabilities to tertiary education and to employment : aims

    • Develop cost-effective inclusion policies for economic and social well-being.

    • Promote effectiveness and quality for full and active participation.

    • Promote best practice quality indicators for effective pathways.


    10 countries participate to Pathways for students with disabilities to tertiary education and to employment

    Portugal

    Germany

    United States

    Ireland

    France

    • Netherlands

    • Denmark

    • Norway

    • Czech Republic

    • Estonia


    Pathways for students with disabilities to tertiary education and to employment : methodology

    • Country reports: Mapping the situation at policy level.

      • Quality linked with current policies and persons with disabilities’ situations in comparison with those of non-disabled people.

    • Policies referred to models of inclusion (Educational model, socio-educational model, socio economical model)

    • Quality approached by policies ability to combine equity, effectiveness and innovation


    Pathways for students with disabilities to tertiary education and to employment : methodology

    • Longitudinal study: What works.

      • Quality linked with the enabling or disabling effect of policies and practices on individuals’ situations.

    • Case studies: How it works.

      • Quality linked with educational practices and support strategies and the skills developed.


    References

    • OECD, (2003), Disability at higher education; OECD, Paris.

    • Ebersold, S. Adapting higher education to the needs of disabled students : development, challenges and prospects in OECD (2008) Higher education to 2030, OECD, Paris.

    • Ebersold, S, (2007). An affiliating participation for an active citizenship, Scandinavian journal of disability research, 9;3


    Thank you

    Serge.ebersold@oecd.org


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