Students with disabilities at the University of Canterbury : experiences and recommendations for change.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This research combines qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate how students with disabilities experience the academic and personal support services at the University of Canterbury and what changes, if any, students would like to make in order to have their personal and educational needs better met. Five students with disabilities were interviewed in order to identify the issues confronting students with disabilities and incorporate these into a questionnaire. All 295 students who identified as disabled at the tertiary institution were sent the questionnaire and 70 students responded. Individual meetings were held with four staff members and publications on provisions for students with disabilities at the University were reviewed to establish what the University claims is available so that this could be compared with students' accounts of their experiences. The information from University staff and the promotional material showed that there were a variety of resources and procedures in place in order to meet the needs of students. Thus the University indicated an active willingness to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The majority of students with disabilities reported that most of their academic and personal needs were met at the University. However the majority of students also put forward recommendations regarding changes that could be made so that their needs could be better met. Students adopted strategies to cope with the barriers that confronted them at University. This research found that students with disabilities felt personally responsible for the barriers that confronted them. This was evidenced by the strategies students used to confront these barriers and the medical model of disability which influenced resource provision for students with disabilities. I argue that a social model of disability needs to be adopted if the underrepresentation of students with disabilities is to be addressed and the University's legal obligations to provide for these students is to be fulfilled.