On June 27, 28 and 29, a group of about ten European experts participated in study visits organized at the Catholic Universities of Louvain-la-Neuve (UCL) and Lille on the theme of the reception of students with disabilities in the network of Catholic Universities.
Organized by the CIRAD as part of the “Towards an Inclusive Culture and Pedagogy” program, the purpose of these visits was to inform the participants about the reception programs implemented by each of the partner universities, and to exchange good practices among specialists concerned with improving the conditions of inclusion of students with disabilities in their institutions.
Since 2011, UCL has established a special status, ‘PEPS’ (French acronym for Program for Students with a Specific Profile), for students unable to complete their studies due to the time-consuming practice of an artistic, sporting or entrepreneurial activity, or because of a disability, a serious illness, an attention deficit or a learning disability. The PEPS status makes it possible to adapt various aspects of student life depending on the disability, the illness or the disorder (schedule, configuration of exams, specialized support, housing (“kot”), etc.). The special feature of the UCL inclusion program is that “pedagogical assistants” are available to students with disabilities in order to facilitate the procedures with the professors and the administration, and to accompany them on a case by case basis according to their needs (research, notetaking, etc.). The visit of Louvain-la-Neuve was punctuated by the intervention of two students who have the PEPS status and who were able to share their experience at UCL.
For its part, the Catholic University of Lille has committed itself through a special reception mission called “MAH” to encourage the inclusion of students with a physical, sensory, psychological or cognitive disability. Apart from ensuring the compliance of its facilities with the French law, the University places great emphasis on raising the awareness of university and administrative teams on the issue of disability through referents present in each institution. Special adjustments are also planned according to the needs of the students during class time, exams and the entry into the professional world (adapted rooms, extra time, specific materials, etc.).
Former president of the Catholic University of Lille, Thérèse Lebrun, guided the group of experts in the new neighborhood Humanicité, straddling the municipalities of Lomme and Capinghem, in the Lille metropolis. This Living Lab project, which was launched in 2009, aims to experiment a new form of living together by crossing individual housing with reception and care centers for vulnerable people. A good example of the University’s commitment to social innovation.
The CIRAD thanks all the members of the Catholic Universities of Louvain-la-Neuve and Lille for their warm welcome in their institutions. These study visits have allowed the participants to observe concrete achievements in the reception of students with disabilities in institutions of higher education, to share experiences and to strengthen links between European Catholic universities. In addition, an International Observatory on Disability, which will be supported by the Catholic University of Valencia and will bring together all IFCU members universities, will soon be launched.
” It was a great experience and an opportunity to go into the theme of the reception of students with disabilities in depth, to share good practices and to strengthen the links between Catholic universities of Europe and Spain. “
Ignacio Vivar Mateo, Social Action Technician at the University Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid