Implementing Inclusion in Studies and Teaching - Ways, Means, Challenges

The virtual panel discussion "Implementing Inclusion in Studies and Teaching - Ways, Means, Challenges“ opened the second day of the Superdiversity School “Accessibility in higher education (teaching, studying and recruiting) – towards a more inclusive university culture”.

Virtual Place

Date

Start: 17.11.2022
End: 17.11.2022

Partners

University of Oulu , Ruhr University Bochum

The UNIC superdiversity schools are trainings and events organised by member universities of the European University of Post-Industrial Cities (UNIC) with the aim to create space to gain knowledge, raise awareness and exchange on specific themes, like this time on inclusion and diversity.

The UNIC Superdiversity School “Accessibility in higher education (teaching, studying and recruiting) – towards a more inclusive university culture” took place from the 16th to the 18th November 2022. It was organized by Ruhr University Bochum and the University of Oulu, and it focussed on questions of accessibility, barriers, and gatekeeping in higher education. Target groups were academic and administrative staff and students.

The virtual panel discussion "Implementing Inclusion in Studies and Teaching - Ways, Means, Challenges“ on the 17th November 2022 opened the second day of the Superdiversity School.

Invited speakers were the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of Ruhr University Bochum, Kornelia Freitag, and the Vice Rector for Education of the University of Oulu, Tapio Koivu. They discussed with Magda Karjalainen, a member from the teaching staff of the University of Oulu, and Michaela Kusal, the Representative for Students with Disabilities of Ruhr University Bochum, the needs, strategies and daily practices of inclusion and accessibility at their universities.

Participants

  • students
  • researchers
  • academic teaching staff
  • administrative staff

Results/Findings

The discussion group shared good practices and common concerns as well as controversial points of views and ideas for improvement. The panel discussion was moderated by Professor Sandra Aßmann, Chair of Informal and Non-formal Learning at Ruhr University.

Institutional structures of universities were identified as the most important enabler of actions for more inclusion but also defined as requiring improvements. Official strategy documents and plans of action - like the university-wide inclusion plan which is currently developed in Bochum - have a strong impact on the policy level, with the potential to guide future actions and decision making. The University of Oulu already has a guidance document for this, yet also in Oulu, there is still a need to provide securely established services to support efforts towards more inclusivity of teaching and studying. Many measures and initiatives are still lying in the hands of individuals and personnel as well as material resources are very limited.

The discussion ended with the united view of all participants that a positive change towards more inclusivity is happening at both universities. Yet, there is still a long way to go until shared values and ideas will be put into practice. All involved participants showed themselves as very willing to work towards this goal and to contribute to taking the next steps. The international networking and sharing of experiences were seen as a useful source for further development and new ideas.

The following needs and wishes were articulated during the discussion:

  • To strengthen teaching more generally, as this enables teachers to work more individually with all students,
  • To emphasize a shame-free approach in teaching and, more generally, in the classroom
  • To look at language and formats of writing or examination in ways that are inclusive and consider and respect difference,
  • To implement measures for knowledge/competence building of teachers (e.g. a toolbox for staff and teachers),
  • To mainstream recommendations on inclusive teaching,
  • To establish services for teachers and staff for practical support measures, e.g. to provide subtitles for existing teaching material,
  • To establish exchange formats and safe spaces for students and staff with disabilities,
  • To facilitate more advice services for students with disabilities,
  • To create structures for reasonable support instead of selective actions,
  • To highlight the success of staff with disabilities,
  • To stay in touch with the concerns of students with disabilities and instigate a regular evaluation of the experiences in order to improve support mechanisms.

Themes

Diversity and Inclusion | Higher Education

Type of Case

event | Panel discussion

Languages

English

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