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Blog series

A new ecology of higher education: Disability, access, participation and belonging

This special issue of the BERA Blog aims to push higher education towards a new ecology that embraces the values and voices of disabled students, and places inclusion and equity at the forefront of the sector’s policy priorities and objectives. The collection of blog posts brings to the fore issues on participation, belonging, accessibility and lack of inclusivity that pre-existed and emerged after the series of lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The term ‘ecology’ is used to describe the interconnected and entangled nature of disability as a part of higher education policy and practice that includes the following bodies: students, government policymakers, academic communities, student services, third-sector organisations, and other linked non-academic organisations and communities. An ecological approach can effectively shed light on the synergy that connects a variety of stakeholders in creating universities as inclusive spaces for disabled students and academic communities alike.

The series features contributions that explore:

  • some key lessons for the higher education sector from a report published by Disabled Students UK drawing upon the survey responses of more than 300 disabled students
  • current problematics and under-used potentials of the disabled students’ allowance
  • the consequences of non-disclosure of disability and conditions for individuals and institutions alike
  • the state of widening participation policies in British universities
  • disabled students’ activism and university student unions, and the importance of the political dimension of disability
  • how to mobilise existing practices in inclusive assessment and Universal Design for Learning
  • the project of the Writing Café: a space of peer-support that facilitated inclusion by shifting the power dynamics of academia
  • what is required to support disabled and neurodiverse university students into meaningful, work-based opportunities.

Editors

Profile picture of Suanne Gibson
Suanne Gibson, Dr

Associate Professor of Inclusive Education at University of Plymouth

Suanne Gibson is an associate professor of Inclusive Education at Plymouth University. She has previously acted as interim director for Plymouth Institute of Education (2019–21), been associate director of Teaching, Learning and...

Profile picture of Francesca Peruzzo
Francesca Peruzzo, Dr

Research Fellow at University of Birmingham

Francesca Peruzzo is a research fellow at the School of Education at the University of Birmingham (UK). Her research interests lie in the intersection between politics and state theory, inclusion, ableism and education policy. Her doctoral study...

Content in this series

Creating the conditions for inclusion: How the Writing Café is facilitating accessibility for disability through mutuality and empowerment

A new ecology of higher education: Disability, access, participation and belonging

Within higher education (HE) there are specific power dynamics that can be attributed to institutionalised intersectional inequality (for example lecturer-student hierarchy, social class and...

Continue reading blog post

Blog post13 Jan 2023

Co-developing inclusive and accessible e-learning resources: Placing disabled and neurodiverse student voices at the centre of our practice

A new ecology of higher education: Disability, access, participation and belonging

What is required to support disabled and neurodiverse university students into meaningful, work-based opportunities? A consultation undertaken through the University of Plymouth’s Office for...

Continue reading blog post

Blog post13 Jan 2023