Equal access to education for people with disabilities is a right internationally acknowledged by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (article 24).
Besides, and bearing in mind that education is the main tool that guarantees equal opportunities and a full social inclusion of disabled people, ONCE Foundation promotes programmes to encourage the equal access to quality higher education for those with disabilities. They also cooperate actively with the Spanish university system in order to remove barriers and make it possible for higher education institutions to be completely inclusive.
Nowadays, in the European university context, exchange programmes represent a remarkable part within the universities’ strategic plans. However, the participation of disabled people in these programmes remains very low. For instance, according to data from the academic year 2010/11, only 0.12% of all ERASMUS students (12 in total) stated to be disabled.
It is in this regard that ONCE Foundation is committed to boost the access for university students with disabilities to transnational exchange programmes, which guarantee a more comprehensive academic training and broader employment opportunities. Thus, they have carried out some activities such as the inclusion in its scholarship programme “Talent Opportunity”, a specific plan of financial support for the transnational exchange of disabled students in order to help them face their stay abroad.
Moreover, it has been promoted the development of a study aimed to know the current situation of exchange programmes at both national and international level with respect to university students with disabilities and also to find examples of good practices in this field.
Lastly, it is worth noting the collaboration started with the association Erasmus Student Network in the academic year 2013/14, and their actions taken to guarantee the inclusion of university students with disabilities who have access to exchange programmes.