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A New Ecology of Higher Education: Disability, Access, Participation, and Belonging

Successfully attending higher education has become increasingly crucial for better work and life prospects. However, disabled students are likely to take longer to complete a degree (OfS, 2020a), demonstrate higher levels of dropout rates (Hector, 2020) and lower levels of satisfaction with their studies (OfS, 2020b), compared to their non-disabled counterparts. This webinar aimed to open a space to voice accounts, discuss provisions, suggest policy strategies, and develop theory to support effective change to inclusion policy and practice in higher education.

By drawing upon contributions to the BERA Blog Special Series ‘A New Ecology of Higher Education: Disability, Access, Participation, and Belonging’ first, and by stimulating discussion in breakout rooms later, the webinar seeked to actively connect a variety of stakeholders in creating universities as inclusive spaces for disabled students and academic communities alike, starting from disabled students’ voices and experiences of higher education.


10:00 BERA Introduction
Janet Hoskin and Kate Mawson
10:05 Opening
Suanne Gibson and Francesca Peruzzo
10:15 Going back is not a choice: Lessons from the pandemic
Mette Anwar-Westander
10:25 Creating the conditions for inclusion: How the Writing Café is facilitating accessibility for disability through mutuality and empowerment
Cara Baer
10:35 Co-developing inclusive and accessible e-learning resources: Placing disabled and neurodiverse student voices at the centre of our practice
Katie Stote
10:45 Speaker Q&A
11:00 Break
11:15 Breakout rooms
11:45 Feedback
12:05 Conclusions and actions moving forwards
12:15 Event close

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Profile picture of Francesca Peruzzo
Francesca Peruzzo, Dr

Research Fellow at University of Birmingham

Dr Francesca Peruzzo is a Research Fellow in Educational Equity and Policy at the Education Equity Initiative, University of Birmingham. Her research interests lie in the intersection between politics, policy, education governance and inclusion,...

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Mette Anwar-Westander

Founding Director at Disabled Students UK

Mette Anwar-Westander (pronoun indifferent) is the founding director of Disabled Students UK (, recognised by Shaw Trust as one of the most influential disabled-led organisations in the UK. DSUK uses an evidence-based...

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Cara Baer, Miss

Doctoral Teaching Assistant at University of Plymouth

Cara Baer is a PhD student, lecturer and researcher at the University of Plymouth (UK). Her research interests are in equitable opportunities within higher education and society, particularly through a social justice lens. Cara’s doctoral study...

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Katie Stote

Project Officer at University of Plymouth

Katie Stote is a Employability and Placements Advisor at the University of Exeter (UK). Alongside building students' skills and confidence in applying for and succeeding in placements as part of the With Industrial Experience degree programme,...


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Janet Hoskin, Dr

Associate Professor at University of East London

Dr Janet Hoskin is Associate Professor of Education at the University of East London, teaching on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Her research interests include exploring the lives and experiences of disabled children and young people,...

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Sulochini Pather, Professor

Professor of Education at Leeds Trinity University

Sulochini Pather is a Professor of Education at the Institute of Childhood and Education (ICE) at Leeds Trinity University (LTU). Her experience in Education spans over 30 years. She began her journey as a teacher in primary, secondary and...

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Louise Arnold, Miss

Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood and Special Education at University of East London

Louise Arnold is a senior lecturer in Early Childhood and Special Education at the University of East London where she teaches on the MA Special Educational Needs and across the undergraduate Early Childhood programmes. Her PhD involves parents,...

Profile picture of Kate Mawson
Kate Mawson, Dr

Principal Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University

Dr Kate Mawson has significant teaching experience across a range of institutions and has worked in Secondary and Higher Education institutions since 2002. Kate is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Founding Fellow of the...

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Julia Everitt, Dr

Research Fellow at Birmingham City University

Dr Julia Everitt is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Birmingham City University (BCU) and has worked in higher education as a researcher since 2014. Julia was awarded her doctorate in 2018 and as a researcher has been involved in over 30 research...

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