According to the Codex for Higher Education “Students with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.
This definition incorporates a wide range of conditions including amongst other physical and sensory disabilities, a chronic illness, a learning disorder (dyslexia or dyscalculia), autism spectrum disorder, attention disorder such as ADHD, tic disorder, dysphasia, a psychiatric disability.
The duty of higher education institutions to provide reasonable adjustments to students with disabilities is a legal requirement established amongst others by the Codex for/in Higher Education. Higher education institutions are bound to set out clear procedures on how to apply for reasonable adjustments as well as an internal procedure for students with disabilities to appeal against a refusal of reasonable adjustments.
Every higher education institution has a specific contact person for students with disabilities. Within their institution, they are responsible for coordinating the guidance and assistance of (both local and international) students with disabilities.
All students who have a disability and wish to apply for reasonable adjustments have to register their disability and have to provide evidence of disability through medical documents. Criteria on what type of report students need to provide and how recent it needs to be varies by disability.
After recognition, the disability officer carries out a needs assessment.During an assessment interview, obstacles that arise within the educational context as a direct result of the disability are inventoried and reasonable adjustments are discussed.
Reasonable adjustments can include:
The agreement on reasonable adjustments always takes into account the practical feasibility, training requirements and the goals of the different courses. Adjustments can be evaluated and adapted over time.
The Flemish Ministry of Education and Training offers specific financial support in the following areas:
The Support Centre for Inclusive Higher Education (SIHO) supports:
The Flemish Agency for People with a Disability (VAPH) offers financial support in the following areas:
The Flemish Government has adopted the Action Plan "Brains on the Move" in 2013. The Action Plan is composed of a broad range of initiatives and scholarships. The focus lies on the mobility of students. The action plan does not only contain strategies to promote mobility among the Flemish students, but it also creates possibilities to attract foreign students to Flanders.
Inclusion is given a central place in the Action Plan. A benchmark was set concerning the mobility of underrepresented groups in higher education. The aim is that 33% of graduates should have a mobility experience and that 33% of the mobile students should belong to underrepresented groups by 2020. At this moment these groups are defined as students with disabilities, students from an economically disadvantaged background and working students.
Concrete actions have been taken to promote mobility among these groups:
Since 2013 there has been an Action plan for student mobility. The aim is that 33% of graduates should have a mobility experience and that 33% of the mobile students should belong to underrepresented groups (among them disabled students). This applies to outgoing mobility.
The National Agency EPOS vzw provides:
The Flemish Ministry of Education and Training provides:
The Flemish Ministry of Education and Training awards scholarships for master's programmes in Flanders and Brussels to outstanding students from around the world. A Master Mind Scholarship includes a grant of €8 000 + a tuition fee waiver per academic year (60 ECTS). Master Mind Scholarship holders only pay an administrative enrolment fee. The grant is paid in instalments and covers accommodation costs, insurances and a significant amount of their living expenses. If you are interested, you first need to apply to one of the Flemish host institutions that participates in the Master Mind Scholarship Programme.
International degree students can apply for the above mentioned disability financial measures of the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training. Exchange students (credit mobility) are not eligible for this financial support and should discuss with their home institution whether there are other means of financial support in the home country, such as the additional Erasmus grant for students with disabilities.
International degree students and exchange students (credit mobility) cannot apply for grants of the Flemish Agency for People with a Disability (VAPH). They should discuss with their home institution whether there are other means of financial support in the home country, such as the additional Erasmus grant for students with disabilities.