Accessibility of Higher Education
Democratisation of HE has helped to ensure a growing trend of increasing enrolment of students with disabilities, although it is still not significant enough in terms of potential numbers. According to the World Health Organisation, 15% of the world’s population are estimated to live with some form of disability (World Report on Disability, 2011) and evidence suggests that persons with disabilities are disproportionately represented among the world’s poor. The adaptation of HE to cater for disability is of major importance from an economic, political and social point of view. Only through this can the employability of persons with disabilities be enhanced, and public policies focusing on the promotion of work, income security, poverty prevention and social exclusion can be supported. Consequently, the international community is increasingly taking into consideration the rights of students with disabilities regarding their access to HE. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was ratified by Chile, Argentina and Mexico in 2007.
In this framework, the European Commission has approved the project “Ensuring Quality Education for Students with Disabilities – MUSE” co-financed by the European Commission through the ERASMUS + programme.
The overall objective of the MUSE project is to improve access, ensure learning conditions and develop employment opportunities for HEIs’ Disabled Students in Latin American countries via modern inclusion practices and networking. The three Latin American countries involved in are Chile, Mexico and Argentina, with the support of institutions in EU (UK, Spain, Italy and Greece).
The specific objectives
- To create a modern inclusive framework through the creation of Students with disabilities Support Centres and long-term strategies for the access and retention of Students with disabilities in HE system.
- To establish a Regional Network to increase inter-institutional relations and sharing of best practices while responding to society’s equity demand.
- Increase inter-institutional cooperation and sharing of good practices via the needs analysis and transfer of know-how.
- Enhancement of managerial and administrative staff capacities in dealing with and implementing inclusive education practices.
- Creation of institutional support structures and assistive technology to enable access to HE and foster the consolidation of a social integration culture within universities.
- Development of a LA network for the Inclusion of Students with disabilities in Higher Education.
- Increase external relations cooperation to improve access and employment of students with disabilities.
- Increase public awareness and understanding on inclusive education within higher education institutions.