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Developing post-secondary education for students with intellectual disabilities

VID Specialized University is developing an education programme for students with intellectual disabilities since these persons don’t currently have access to higher education in Norway. The project aims to highlight how access to higher education is a universal right.
Professor Inger Marie Lid is opening a door for student Lars Jakob Lund.
Developing an education program has been a joyful process to the professor Inger Marie Lid and Lars Jakob Lund who is a candidate to the pilot program. Photo ©Ivar Kvistum

In cooperation with the Norwegian Association for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (NFU) and Oslo municipality, VID Specialized University is developing a study programme to provide a higher education provision for a small group of students with intellectual disabilities.

Article 24 (5) in the the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), states that ‘States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities are able to access general tertiary education, vocational training, adult education and lifelong learning without discrimination and on an equal basis with others’(UN, 2006).

Higher education in all its forms is an important arena for ensuring personal development and for qualifying people to participate in the labour market. For many, their student years are a formative period in their life, where in addition to acquiring knowledge, they also form important relationships, gain self-determination, and have room to flourish and grow in a less restrictive learning situation than previously.

Education is significant to both — the students and the society

Education of persons with intellectual disabilities is important from a human rights perspective, but it will also enable students to take more responsibility in their own lives and to improve the interaction with the local authorities that provide services for this group.

The students will take part in a course on values in professional practice together with students from the master program in citizenship and cooperation and bachelor students in social education. Learning together across the role of service provider — service user can potentially lead to an improvement in services.

In the picture student Lars Jakob Lund shows a thumbs up.
Lars Jakob Lund is a candidate for the first circle of the study programme. Photo ©Ivar Kvistum

Activities within the pilot project

Pilot project activities comprise the development and initial implementation of a one-year study programme worth 30 ECTS credits for students with intellectual disabilities. Six main measures in the project are:

  1. Develop the educational programme. The programme will be developed in a collaboration between the project group and the potential students of the study programme
  2. Preparation of programme description, teaching plans and timetables
  3. Recruitment of students.
  4. Train employees in universal design
  5. Mentor scheme: recruit bachelor and master students to ensure participation and inclusion in the student community. This entails one-on-one follow-up, where a student in another study programme, who is participating in one of the courses with the pilot project students, mentors a student
  6. Follow-up research.

VID Specialized University is eager to take this first step in developing a high quality post-secondary education for a new group of students and thereby contribute to strengthening social inclusion in higher education.


About the authors

Inger Marie Lid is a professor of public health and rehabilitation at Master program in citizenship and cooperation at the faculty of health studies at VID Specialized University. Her research interests focus on citizenship, universal design, and research ethics. She is chief editor of Scandinavian Journal of disability research.

Anna Chalachanová is an assistant professor of social education at faculty of health studies at VID Specialized University. Her research interests focus on citizenship and inclusive research together with people with intellectual disabilities.

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