Last week the auditorium of the Secretary of State for Social Services hosted the presentation of the IV Study 'University and Disability', which addresses the current situation of people with disabilities in the Spanish university system .
The study has been carried out by the Universia Foundation with the support of Banco Santander and the collaboration of the Spanish Committee of Representatives of People with Disabilities (CERMI), ONCE Foundation, the Royal Board of Disability and the collaboration of the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities (CRUE)
The objective of this report, prepared for the fourth year on a biennial basis, is to measure the degree of inclusion of people with disabilities in the Spanish university system relative to the 2017-2018 academic year and show the evolution that has occurred during the eight academic courses that have elapsed since the start of this project in 2011.
The director of the Universia Foundation, Sonia Viñas, valued the traceability of the data in the Study: “To investigate is to listen, that is why interaction with the environment is so important. Contrasting everyday hypotheses and sometimes discovering things that allow us to offer and generate educational innovation guarantee the right to education”.
In this regard, she referred to the Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations SDG 4, "to ensure inclusive, equitable and quality education for all people." And she concluded with a reflection: “We must be able to put in value as a country, what we are getting in terms of inclusive higher education. Education, if not inclusive, is not of quality. But in addition, education, if not inclusive, is not education. ”
This study has been conducted with the participation of 1,720 university students with disabilities, which represents an increase of more than 200% over the students who participated in 2016. On the other hand, the 72 universities (public and private) that have collaborated include 96% of students with disabilities of the Spanish university system.
Profiles of the students with disabilities
The director of Programs with Universities and Promotion of the Young Talent of Fundación ONCE, Isabel Martínez, said that this study is “the only one that offers an x-ray” of the situation of people with disabilities in the university. According to her, it offers "clues" of what evolution is and where the main obstacles are. "The ONCE Foundation allows us to detect where we should influence and provide our support and to the rest of the entities to plan where more resources are needed."
Among the positive data, the increase in the number of university students with disabilities, the greater international mobility, the increase between teaching and research staff and the improvement of employability. The most negative data: "the important and striking gender bias".
By type of disability the tendency is maintained: the predominant disability among students in grade, first and second cycle with disability is physical disability (55.9%), and the least represented is sensory disability (visual and auditory, 17, 6%) However, the latter is the one that picks up the greatest growth as it progresses in the upper levels (master's and doctorate).
These analyzed data show that the predominant profile of a university student with a disability, in Spanish universities, is a man (51%) who is studying in Social and Legal Sciences (54%).
Women with disabilities in universities
In relation to the distribution by gender, it is observed that there is a lower proportion of women with disabilities, with 49.1% of women undergraduate students, 48.7% of postgraduate and 43.4% of doctorate. This trend is maintained with respect to the previous edition of the Study. However, it contrasts with the community of general university students where, regardless of disability, there is a greater representation of women in the classroom: 45% are men and 55% are women, according to the report of CRUE Spanish Universities “The Spanish University in Numbers, 2016 and academic year 2016/2017”.
According to the data collected, 15.2% of women with disabilities have stated that being a woman has led to greater difficulties in the development of their studies or has involved more discrimination or exclusion than that experienced by their male partners.
The executive director of the Spanish Committee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities (CERMI), Pilar Villarino, defended the need for “serious and rigorous studies, because without data we are not going anywhere”. In this line, he indicated that the generation of knowledge “is essential for the empowerment of people with disabilities” and that “it is important to weave alliances when it comes to achieving a fully inclusive university. The university is an agent of social transformation”.
In terms of international mobility, there is a lower exit of university students with disabilities who study at foreign universities (4.4%) compared to university students with disabilities who choose a Spanish university as their destination (5.6%).
In the 2017-2018 academic year, 74% of universities state that there is participation of students with disabilities in international mobility programs implemented in their university. An improvement over the III Study where 60% of universities offered these programs.
84% of the universities participating in the study have evaluated their accessibility levels, and 42% have implemented a plan to improve accessibility. The proportion of universities that have certified the accessibility of their mobile applications is also appreciable.
Regarding digital accessibility virtual campuses (virtual learning space and community for students and teachers), 38% of universities have an accessibility certification. This is a great improvement over the 2015-2016 academic year where only 22% had it.
Regarding the students' perception of physical barriers in the university environment, the figure decreases with respect to the previous study. Today, 21% (45% in the previous study) claim to have found accessibility barriers in the university, the most common being the classroom (51.5%), the material provided by the teachers (36.6%) and the common spaces (34.4%).
More information about these and other details of the study at http://www.fundacionuniversia.net/