Pompeu Fabra University – Barcelona, Spain

At the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona there is a program titled “UPF Inclusion” which focuses on the inclusion of students with disabilities. The program was created from the beginning of the university in 1990 by University management in order to promote the real and effective participation of students with disabilities. Apart from supporting persons with disabilities, UPF Inclusion also supports low-income students and students/staff with a refugee or migrant background. The identification of these equity groups is based both in national plans/legislation and in the University’s internal policies. The program does not have targets for access for specific equity groups.

In the last two years the program has carried out the following activities with regard to equal access/inclusion/diversity:

  • Support and counselling for students and university staff, 
  • Lectures, workshops, seminars for students, faculty and non-teaching staff, 
  • Training courses for peer educators, 
  • Improving physical accessibility, 
  • Improving digital accessibility. 

Individual adaptation to student needs was singled out as having the greatest impact. 

In addition to activities to support inclusion, the program implements binding policy (legislation), strategy/action plans and recommendations/guidelines to counter exclusionary and discriminatory practices at the university.

The program also implements innovative practices/tools. The latest innovative practice included software adaptations required for adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic study conditions.

The motivation for establishing the programme was to adapt classes and spaces of the University to the needs of disabled students. University management wanted to start a programme aimed at establishing student-customized services, supporting the adaptation of disabled students, their international mobility and access to job offers. The programme’s success rests on enabling the effective integration of the entire university community.
The activities of the program are regulated by the following policy documents: Regulations about Curricular Adjustment of Studies Regulations and progression rules about attending bachelor studies Modality regulations concerning commitment to part-time studies Academic regulations about bachelor teaching Regulations for acceleration in undergraduate studies
UPF inclusion depends functionally on the vice-management of Transversal Projects and organically on the vice-rectorate of Social Responsibility. Diversity, inclusion, and equality are explicitly mentioned both in the program and in the university’s strategies, policies and work plans. University management contributes most to decisions regarding program design and other activities. The program is a member of local networks, regional networks and national networks. This membership contributes to the program through sharing of best practices in the sector.
The major challenge during the establishment of the program was a need to adapt to the different needs of students and currently to deal with an increase in mental health problems among students. The program is being financed from the university budget. The stability of the funding is assessed as fairly stable. The current main obstacle to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the program is the stability of the state budget.
The program has a formal evaluation process. The evaluation data are collected through individual questionnaires and focus groups. The evaluation report is disseminated to University management.

UPF Inclusion

Barcelona, Spain