C. Vilaplana Prieto

Universidad de Murcia (SPAIN)
From 17th to 22nd of July 2011, the University of Murcia organized a “Campus without limits” with the purpose of approximating college education to high school students who suffer some type of disability. During that week, 60 high school students with disabilities were invited to participate in this experience. The program of activities included visits to college facilities (all of them adapted to disabilities), conferences about the different degrees offered by the university and talking to college students who have disabilities.

With this project we wanted to bring attention into the situation of young students with disabilities. Previously, we analysed the situation of young disabled in Spain. For this purpose, we used national data from Survey of Disabilities, Dependencies and Situations of Autonomy (2008). The number of young people aged 18-23 years with a disability amounted to 47.857, where a disability is understood as a limitation for doing daily living activities. However, only 5.82% attended to university, and what is even more worrying, 4.87% desired to study at university but could not.

Regarding the level of disability, we applied the Ranking Scale approved by the new Spanish Law of Dependency. In the group of college students with disabilities, 89.13% could not be considered as dependent, 4.87% were moderate dependent, 3.98% severe dependent and 2.03% great dependent. In the group with college education unmet needs, there were more students qualified as severe or great (23.59%, 15.70%, respectively).

Afterwards, we performed a logit regression for the probability of college education unmet needs (UN) controlling by gender, dependency degree, size of municipality, family characteristics, belonging to non-governmental organizations (NGO) for people with disabilities, having received professional aid for improving learning process. Results obtained indicate that: (1) living in a municipality with more than 100.000 inhabitants decreases the probability of UNs by 20%; (2) if the mother or father is working the probability decreases by 85% and 169%, respectively; (3) belonging to an NGO decreases the probability by 42%; (4) having received professional help in previous years decreases the probability by 10%; (5) on the other hand, being severe dependent increases this probability by 397% and (6) being female increases this probability by 32%.

It is true that certain variables, such as municipality of residence and parents’ working status are out of the scope of educational policy measures. However, at least three initiatives should be empowered. First, increase the percentage of adapted dwellings in student residences, so that housing would not be a barrier for students who live in small municipalities and have to move to another city. Second, the effect of NGO over the probability of college education unmet needs should be interpreted in terms of the benefits derived from getting into contact with other families in the same situation. The emergence of friendship relationships and the exchange of information constitute very valuable elements. Consequently, institutional support (technical & economic) should be provided to them. Finally, the Law of Dependence has implemented a benefit for personal assistance. Up to the moment, it is only a residual benefit. Nevertheless, results have shown that receiving professional help during high school increases the probability of the student goes to university if he really wants to.