Supporting young adults with special educational needs (SEN) in obtaining higher qualifications

Arthur Limbach-Reich, Justin J.W. Powell

The following report discusses the specified topic of ‘supporting young adults with SEN’ pursuant to the proposed leading questions on national and international (European) background(s). There are few international comparative publications that focus particularly on disability and higher education. Mostly these have been written under the aegis of international organizations like ANED, EADSNE, and OECD (Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2014; Ebersold, 2008b, 2012; Grammenos, 2013; WHO, 2011). These
comparative studies risk of losing sight of the fact that key concepts such as Higher Education1 , Disability2 , and Accessibility3 differ widely and are linked to ‘inclusion’, itself an elusive and ethically charged concept currently controversially discussed in many countries. In addition, inclusion sometimes morphs into a catchword in these discussions without connection to real political will and without considering the necessary consequences in a competitive and mainly capitalistic market-driven economy in which persons with impairments or disabilities are regarded as human capital with the objective to change them from tax-user to tax-payer (Becker, 2015; Sierck, 2013). Both, ‘from global and local perspectives accessibility to higher education for students with a disability / additional needs, seems fragmented and inconsistent’ (Supple & Abgenyega, 2011, p. 97). This relates to the multiple functions and rising importance of higher education for labour market integration, social integration, and life chances.


Limbach-Reich, A. & Powell, J. J. (2016). Supporting young adults with special educational needs (SEN) in obtaining higher qualifications (NESET II ad hoc question Nr. 6). Luxembourg. Network of Experts on Social Aspects of Education and Training (NESET); European Commission (EC).

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