By recognising the wide diversity in our student community, we have built a culture of open and enthusiastic inclusion recognising the potential of all students, while adopting a compassionate and proactive approach to curriculum design and support services.
We believe that our students’ present circumstances should never determine whether or not their personal and academic dreams are realisable, or whether they can flourish in their desired career journey. These merely determine their starting point, and we are committed to supporting their end goals.
The student experience: who are they and where do they come from?
One in five students will experience a personal challenge, or identify with an ongoing accessibility need at one point during their studies. Yet of those students, only 30% reach out for support by disclosing their needs.
Mental health represents over half of accessibility needs experienced by our students, followed closely by chronic medical conditions, and learning or neurological diversities.
A significant number of students manage multiple conditions, and these complexities create further nuances in our understanding of individual needs and capacity.
Systemic barriers, as well as social stigmatisation, can discourage and limit help-seeking behaviour. We critically mitigate these challenges through our interactions with students.
In order to deliver effective supports, we build our awareness and recognise the multitudes of student experiences and identities. In short, we support personal autonomy and choice by maintaining a student-centric approach.
Wins and successes: what are we doing well?
The most significant impact to customer service is driven by dedicated interpersonal relationships, and student gratitude is overwhelmingly associated with staff who build a compassionate understanding of the student, their identity and their needs.
Academic champions play a key role in creating positive experiences for students with accessibility needs. This sense of rapport creates an accessible learning environment and provides a transformative experience, building a community where diversity is both welcomed and celebrated.
Acknowledging the student voice is also a core principle in our student experience at Torrens University, and we are proud of the leaders who take advantage of platforms and opportunities to advocate for, and represent, their peers.
In addition to our local Student Representative Councils, various interest groups and special committees also feature student representation, which ensures these individuals have a voice in decision making to drive greater equity and inclusion across all our operations.
Ongoing challenges: what can we improve?
Embracing innovation and change means Torrens University will adapt to the future of university education, as we are committed to a culture of ongoing improvement. Engagement in interdisciplinary discussions ensures we develop truly effective solutions supporting our students.
With the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, and the increasing reliance on online education, our dedication to continually evaluate the design of our virtual learning environments and technology solutions ensures we are agile and flexible to support accessibility needs.
Expanding on the resources that are currently available is our key focus for future accessibility, ensuring we remain competitive in championing student wellbeing. Resources currently available for our students include closed captioning materials, alternative format assessments, customised placements, and clinical modifications, as well as individualised classroom and learning support.
By investing in the training and development of staff, we build greater confidence and capacity across all teams to support students with accessible needs. It also ensures engagement in cross-functional collaboration, emphasising the importance of acknowledging diversity and designing inclusive accommodations.
Access for all: creating inclusive education at Torrens University
Accessibility is driven by the notion of equity and inclusion. We are proud of the diverse representation across our students and staff, and we are driven by our ‘Be Good’ value, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive in our communities.
Continuing to uphold these principles and promises requires all of us to participate, so reach out your hand, and use it to pull us all forward, together.
If you are passionate about being involved in our Disability Access and Inclusion Steering Group, or if you know a student who may benefit from connecting with our services for accessibility please get in touch here: firstname.lastname@example.org