Russia’s Civic Chamber and the research centre Distinctive Opinion has published the results of nationwide monitoring of access to higher education. It included 169 universities from 51 federal subjects.
According to the results, in 36% of universities accessible areas are poor or lacking, only 48% have special technical educational facilities, and 54% do not have medical provisions for people with disabilities and health problem. In addition, in many universities there are no specialist staff (tutors, interpreters, medical professionals, methodologists) or adapted study programmes.
The study shows that it is difficult for students with disabilities to find and access the information necessary to be able to enrol at university. The researchers also note the limited knowledge of admissions officers about admissions requirements and education of those with disabilities or health conditions.
The Civic Chamber advocates increasing access to higher education for people with disabilities or health problems. Experts recommend in particular ensuring implementation of the right of disabled people to enrol simultaneously in more than one university and specialisation.
“In order to attend university, those with disabilities should provide five certificates and an individual rehabilitation programme, which they receive over a period of several months. It is issued as a single copy, so students with health conditions can enrol at only one university and one specialisation, unlike students without health concerns. We recommend (and the Ministry of Education supports this initiative) increasing the number of universities accessible to those with disabilities, for which it is necessary to issue duplicate or notarised copies of the individual rehabilitation programme”, said Ekaterina Kurbangalyeva, director of Distinctive Opinion.
In 2015-2016 around 6000 students with disabilities enrolled at university, and a little more than 4000 graduated, noted Kurbangalyeva. The most popular subjects for disabled students in 2014 and 2015 were clinical medicine, economics and management, and education. Distinctive Opinion showed that those with disabilities currently account for 0.38% of all Russian students.
“It is vital to understand that those with disabilities have the right to education and work. We must create an accessible environment and do everything possible to help adapt and integrate those with disabilities into society”, said Civic Chamber member Vladimir Slepak.
The recommendations formulated by the Civic Chamber will be directed to the government, the Presidential Commission for the disabled, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, and other relevant ministries and departments.
Distinctive Opinion’s full report on access to professional development for those with disabilities can be viewed as a PowerPoint via the following link.