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Culture change in an HEI: the SENDA agenda

Helen Masterton, University of Surrey Roehampton
Co-author(s): Sara Doherty, University of Surrey Roehampton

Powerpoint presentation


There has been an on going exploration of the issues of integration and inclusion in terms of what these concepts might mean in reality for children and professionals within mainstream school provision in the UK since the Warnock Report (1978). The debate concerning integration and inclusion within the Higher Education (HE) sector has, during this same period, largely focused on the implications of research for the rest of the education sector rather than addressing the issue within higher education itself. It could be argued therefore that Higher Education is the least inclusive sector of education. Current government initiatives in higher education include widening participation; a substantial increase in student numbers; and wider access for students who might not have been perceived in the past as traditional higher education students. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (2001) has a pivotal role within this remit. This paper explores the argument that the move towards broadening access and therefore by definition a more inclusive higher education sector is driven in response to government initiatives and current legislation rather than a commitment to the concept of inclusion per se within higher education. The response to a programme of training related to the Special Education Needs and Disability Act (2001) for all staff within a higher education establishment using qualitative data is analysed as a means of assessing the impact of a growing awareness of disability in HE and the commitment to compliance with legislative directives and best practice in the support of students with disabilities. The role of legislation is crucial if inclusion is to be considered an important agenda. Equally important is strategic planning and effective training in the development of understanding of the concept of entitlement if attitudes are to be challenged in order for genuine inclusion to be a reality.

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