Over 500 students take part in the Inclusive Campus programme06.10.2016
Over the five-year history of the programme, 19 Spanish universities and 519 students, both with and without disabilities, have participated in the Inclusive Campus, Campus without Borders programme, an initiative promoted by Fundación Repsol, Fundación ONCE, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport (MECD).
Marcial Marín Hellín, secretary of state for Education, Professional Training, and Universities at the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport; Alberto Durán, executive vice-chairman of Fundación ONCE; and Ignacio Egea, vice-chairman of Fundación Repsol, presented the main results of this programme and reinforced their commitment to the full integration of people with disabilities in the educational environment, especially at the university level.
Marcial Marín pointed out that “a lot of progress has been made in this sense” and that Spain “is a pioneer in integration initiatives”, despite acknowledging that “there are still significant challenges to overcome”.
Ignacio Egea gave special mention to “the challenge we all face to achieve the full integration of people with disabilities in all areas of life”, and encouraged everyone present to “continue breaking down any barriers that may make this objective more difficult to achieve”.
Lastly, Alberto Durán mentioned the programme's success. Out of the 500 students who have taken part over the last five years, 93% are working, have completed a higher-education programme, or are at university. “Only 7% were unable to continue”. The executive vice-chairman of Fundación ONCE took advantage of this opportunity to call for an inclusive educational system that encourages diversity at all educational stages, including university. “An inclusive university is the best guarantee of achieving an inclusive society”, he concluded.
Furthermore, several round tables were held during the meeting, where experts in the field of educational integration in the university environment presented interesting proposals to continue increasing the number of people with disabilities that can further their education at university.
The Inclusive Campus programme experience
The Inclusive Campus programme makes it easier for students with disabilities to get first-hand experience and knowledge of the university life by enjoying one-week stays at different university campuses in Spain. During this time, they take part in academic outreach activities, as well as finding out about the courses on offer at the universities, the services available to students with disabilities, and the cultural and recreational activities in which they can participate.
The programme's main goal is to reduce school dropout rates among students with disabilities, encouraging these secondary students between 15-18 years of age, as well as those completing further education vocational training programmes, to continue their studies at university and improve their future employment prospects.
In the words of Alyna Braviy, one of the participants in the 2011 Inclusive Campus programme at the University of Murcia, “you have to take risks, live the life you want, and refuse to set limits for yourself; that's what I learnt on Campus”.
It also helps the participating universities detect ways of improving their campus by putting them in contact with the future students who will fill their classrooms. This way, they will be better prepared to offer them an inclusive university education in an equal opportunities environment.
The programme first took place in 2011 as part of the Campus of International Excellence project. Since then, the programme has had a very positive impact. Every year, a growing number of universities and students participate. Furthermore, most participants have decided to continue their education and enrolled in higher education studies. Moreover, the 19 participating universities have become increasingly committed to the importance of accessibility and the need to promote the presence of students with disabilities in their classrooms, all under the leadership of their deans.
Call for proposals from universities
This programme is designed to be a support for universities that present their projects to develop inclusive campuses in each edition.
Every project must explain and plan and activities to be carried out with a group of at least 15 students in secondary education (15–18 years old) or completing other further education vocational training programmes. At least 60% of the participants must have disabilities, while the other 40% must not.
The best projects receive financial aid from Fundación Repsol, the Fundación ONCE, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport, aimed at covering the expenses arising from the activities of the Inclusive Campus programme.
So far, the following universities have participated:
- Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM)
- University of Almería (UAL)
- University of Granada (UGR)
- University of Jaén
- University of Málaga (UMA)
- University of Murcia (UM)
- University of Navarre (UNAV)
- University of Salamanca (USAL)
- University of Seville (US)
- University of Valencia (UV)
- University of Valladolid (Uva)
- Jaume I University of Castellón
- Pablo de Olavide University (UPO - Seville)
- Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT)
- Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC)
- Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV)
- Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid (URJC)
- University of Santiago de Compostela (USC)
- University of A Coruña (UdC)