Inclusive Learning at NUI Galway: Hearing and Embedding the Student Voice

Keighron, Cameron, Buckley, Lucy-Ann and Wijeratne, Dinali Inclusive Learning at NUI Galway: Hearing and Embedding the Student Voice.


This presentation draws on two inclusive learning projects at NUI Galway: one with undergraduate students in the College of Business, Public Policy and Law (supported by the NUI Galway Student Project Fund), and one with postgraduate students at University level (supported by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education). Both projects are co-designed by staff and students, and seek to identify barriers to inclusion and promote inclusive learning environments.

The projects particularly focus on the experiences of students with disabilities, along with students from other groups: international/ intercultural students, students of different genders (including non-binary students), students with caring responsibilities, LGBT+ students, mature students and students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. These categories are not mutually exclusive and many students have intersections with several groups, resulting in multiple barriers in some cases. While not all students in these categories will have a disability, there have been many common learnings across all these areas that highlight significant barriers to inclusion but that also help us pave the way to fostering better accessibility and inclusion.

The student voice has been central to both projects from inception. Students have been involved in the project design, funding and implementation. The student voice has also been extensively embedded in data gathering processes, staff training and awareness-raising, project initiatives such as award schemes, project monitoring and reporting, and contributions to institutional policy development. This presentation, based on our ongoing projects, will highlight the value of student engagement in promoting inclusion at third level, as well as outlining some insights of practical ways in which this can be achieved, which may be of use to other HEIs. It will also showcase some of the key issues raised by students with disabilities.

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