Institutions are required to have a fair, transparent and accountable admissions process which aligns with the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Commonwealth Disability Standards for Education 2005.
Under this legislation, it is unlawful for education providers to discriminate against a person with disability, including refusing to admit a person to a course on the basis that they are unlikely to be able to obtain work after graduation or fully participate in a required practicum because of disability. Institutions are also not permitted to pre-empt the decisions of any registration or qualifying body.
A person with disability who meets entry requirements should be offered the same chance to study as any other person. However, the implication of a person's disability may have had an impact on their prior studies and therefore their eligibility for admission. In light of this, most education providers recognise the disadvantage that may have occurred through experience of disability, and offer special consideration in the application process. This provides applicants with disability or health condition with a formal process that enhances their opportunity for selection.
During the admission process you can play an important role as the contact and support person for students with disability who may need assistance. As a disability practitioner, you can also assist the admission staff with any queries about particular disability issues, if requested.
To get an overview of how effectively your own institution manages the admission process for students with disability, there are a number of important questions to ask:
- Do admissions policies make it clear how applications from students with disability will be handled?
- Do selectors and admissions staff know how to respond to applicants with disability?
- Do they know who can provide additional advice if required?
- Do selectors take into account that applicants with disability may have had fewer opportunities, for example participation in extra-curricular activities, where this type of experience may be an advantage for admission?
- Are arrangements made to ensure that any interview/audition process caters for the needs of people with disability?
- Does the admission/selection process provide opportunities for students to disclose any disability-related needs?
- Does it give information on disability services and support available within the institution?
- If applicants are tested in any way during the course of their application, is the method used accessible to people with disability?
- Are sign interpreters for interviews required?,
- Is information available in alternative formats?
- Are selection criteria clear about the inherent requirements of a particular course and whether adjustments can be made to meet the needs of individual students without reducing academic standards?
- Have selection criteria been reviewed to ensure that they do not unfairly affect students with disability?
- Are applicants given information about disability support services and any documentation about their disability that may be required?
International students have the same rights under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 as domestic students. Consider whether your institution meets these legal requirements in relation to international students with disability:
- Are there appropriate procedures for meeting the support needs of international students?
- Are international student officers and other staff sensitive to different cultural attitudes to disability?
- Do international student officers know about access and provision for students at the institution?
Monitoring and Review
Institutions benefit from regular review and monitoring of procedures. The following questions are a useful starting point for this process:
- Is there a regular review of admissions processes and procedures to ensure that they are as inclusive as possible?
- Are students and applicants with disability asked to give feedback on different aspects of the admissions process?
- Does the institution monitor the ratio of applications to acceptances for applicants with disability to different courses?
- Are complaints monitored so that problem areas can be identified and addressed?