The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: NCSEHE Focus: Successful outcomes for students with disability in Australian higher education


The number of students with disability in Australian higher education have increased rapidly in the last decade, but institutions are often finding it challenging to meet best practice.

Research sponsored by the NCSEHE has uncovered new issues and challenges, as well as providing solutions for educational institutions to radically improve their performance.

Between 2008 and 2015 the number of undergraduate students with disability increased by 88.6 per cent, more than double the rate of growth of total undergraduate students nationally, representing 6.2 per cent of the overall undergraduate student body.

Recent reports by the NCSEHE identified the issues and challenges facing students with a disability:

  • Retention, success and outcomes

Research highlighted problems with accessing the correct data and information to accurately assess challenges and act upon them, while ‘training the educators’ in disability issues was another challenge.

  • Teaching and institutional cultures

Major changes were proposed to raise awareness for a more inclusive environment. Educational content delivery was also seen as a significant area for progressive change.

  • Support policies and strategies

The provision of adequate service delivery and ‘reasonable adjustments’ to facilities and services, as well as improving inherent requirement statements was highlighted.

Recommendations for policy and strategy:

  • better data collection and performance indicators on students with disability
  • improved inherent requirement statements
  • improvements to teaching methods, materials, and technology
  • more, and better, disability awareness training
  • greater flexibility in self-reported disability
  • a more holistic approach to support for students with disability
  • more flexible options for support services and study terms.

Future research recommendations:

  • analysis of achievement and retention
  • disability classifications and characteristics
  • teaching and support programs
  • inherent requirement statements
  • employment outcomes
  • recruitment and outreach programs.

Achieving better outcomes for students with a disability

Substantial progress has been made in access, retention, and outcomes for students with disability in Australian higher education.

While a lot more remains to be done, the research reports sponsored by NCSEHE points to future directions for better outcomes for students with disability.

NCSEHE Focus: Successful outcomes for students with disability in Australian higher education