Higher education for students with disabilities: ensuring compliance with the UN Convention

September 24, 2018, By Liz Priestley

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force in the Netherlands on 14 July 2016. Institutions in higher education are working on the implementation of this treaty. The convention is co-organised with Utrecht University and the conference explores possibilities to make education more inclusive.

Scientia will be supporting the discussion at the conference with a presentation on International differences in supporting the exam organisation process, sharing best practices and advising institutions how they can improve their processes to support the organisation of examinations for students with extra provisions.

Around the globe, there are variances in the number of students requiring extra provisions. For instance in Germany, there are hardly any students that need extra provisions, whilst in the Netherlands, the number is much higher and looks set to increase. Norway has an equal number of students requesting extra provisions to the Netherlands and has seen this trend grow as they adapt the list to reflect the numbers of disabilities, including allowing extra time in a written exam if a student has hay fever.

In Australia, New Zealand and the UK, there are more sophisticated processes around the organisation of students with a need for an extra provision. There is no single definition of what counts as a disability between the countries.

The most common way for institutions to prepare and plan for exams and assessments with students with extra provisions is for the information to be manually maintained on MS Outlook and Excel and shared between the various departments who are involved in the organisation of the examinations.

The discussion point of the presentation will look at how some countries are demonstrating how the preparation and organisation of students with extra provisions can be conducted differently. A student can request they require extra provision online using their mobile device. This information is processed by the institution’s exam team. The exams scheduler can take this information into account and the student can receive a personal exam timetable where their disability has been taken into consideration. Institutions who have a need to prioritise the services towards students with a disability can use a system to support the complete workflow for the exam organisation.

In each country, there are different needs and perceptions towards students with a disability. This is changing as institutions in more countries acknowledge that better services and workflows are needed to support a growing number of students with special needs.

The conference will take place between 19 – 20 November at Utrecht University.

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