Universities Accord report fails students with disabilities

Universities Accord report fails students with disabilities

by  | Feb 29, 2024 | The Big StoryWire

Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) has slammed the University Accord, saying it ignores students with disabilities and neglects vital basics in its plans to reform higher education.

In a scathing analysis of the proposed tertiary reforms CYDA says they lack ambition, ignore the needs of disabled students, and make virtually no attempt to engage with the sector at all.

CEO Skye Kakoschke-Moore emphasises when the report does mention disability, “it does so in ways that are ableist and based on offensively low expectations of students with disability.” 

Although hailed by Education Minister Jason Clare as a “blueprint” for reforming higher education in Australia over the next decade, Kakoschke-Moore notes the 400-page report fails to address the needs of students with disability. 

This is in stark contrast to far more ambitious goals for other under-represented groups. The aim for regional, rural, and remote students, for example, is to increase the participation rate from 19.8% to 24% over the same period. The participation rate for students with disability in 2022 is just 11.6%.  

“The absence of disability is a glaring shortcoming of this report”, Kakoschke-Moore says. “It’s upsetting that this long-awaited plan to transform higher education seems to prioritise the outcomes for some demographics over others.”  

“Under the Disability Standards for Education, students with disability have as much a right to a quality education, and to access that education, as anyone else.” 

Separately, other advocates note the reforms also ignore the vital need to up-skill the rapidly growing sector, which many feel leaves a disappointing hollowness at the center of the University Accord. 

View the Final Report and its recommendations.