University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 1485-1494
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain
The study presented here is part of a research project “Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education: Investigate to Guide the Institutional Change” (PTDC/IVC-PEC/4886/2012), funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology; carried out at the Universities of Aveiro and Algarve, since May 2013. The project resulted from the need to investigate and develop systematic research on non-traditional students (NTS) in Higher Education (HE) in Portugal. It consists of four interconnected lines of research which analyse different groups of NTS in HE. In this work, the authors intend to focus on the line of research concerning the students with disabilities in the University of Aveiro (UA).

Hence, we aim:
(1) to disseminate practices that have been promoted at institutional level to welcome, include, promote and monitor the well-being of students with disabilities in HE and
(2) to describe and analyse these students’ perceptions on their educational and socialization experiences in HE. This study also intends
(3) to understand these students’ perceptions on the readiness of UA to welcome them in the sense of inclusion and normalization. To this end, using essentially a qualitative approach, we compare the set of the institutional responses to students with disabilities’ needs with the perception of these students on the responses of UA regarding their academic trajectory.

The results emerged from the content analysis performed on the transcription of semi-structured interviews of 10 students with disabilities.
From the institutional point of view the analysis shows that the services of the UA work collaboratively, with a common goal of including all students, and to respond to particular special needs of students with disabilities in order to provide their wellness and to promote academic success. With regard to students, the results suggest that students with disabilities consider that the UA is well prepared to receive them.

They point out that:
i) the UA has a sound support structure to accommodate and support students with disabilities,
ii) there is readily availability of UA services to respond to students with disabilities needs and that the procedures implemented facilitate the student academic path, and
iii) the socialization practices and extracurricular activities promote the inclusion of students with disabilities on a normalization perspective.

In conclusion, this study can contribute to disseminate good practices for learning and inclusion of students with disabilities in HE, as well as to elucidate aspects susceptible to improve and to guide institutional changes with a view of full inclusion.
Students with disabilities, Inclusion, Higher Education, Good Practices.