Academic and lawyer asks universities to be disability champions

Academic and lawyer asks universities to be disability champions

29 November 2021 By Naomi Neilson
University of Queensland

Given the steady increase of undergraduate students with a disability, one academic and lawyer has asked that universities across Australia do more to become disability champions and ensure that every one of their students is given equal opportunities.

A University of Queensland (UQ) associate professor and chair of its Disability Inclusion Group, Paul Harpur, lost his vision after a train accident at the age of 14. Now, in his role with UQ and his position as a lawyer, he hopes that universities “play a key role in promoting inclusion” for the nearly four million people with a disability.

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Talking to UQ, Dr Harpur said he “dreams of a world where it is no longer about ‘them and us’” and instead becomes “just ‘us’”. Higher education institutes could be at the forefront of making this important transition.

“Universities can become disability champions where there is institutional support on diversity and inclusion,” Dr Harpur commented. “At UQ, we have such support. Inclusion at the university is all about teamwork, and this is reflected in the industry and university level awards we receive.”

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Dr Harpur, who was recently awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship, will investigate how the higher education sector can better support people with a disability to transition from economic exclusion and into the workforce.

“UQ is moving from being a disability confident organisation to becoming a disability courageous university,” Dr Harpur said. “We are well on the way to realising this dream.”

Academic and lawyer asks universities to be disability champions
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