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From December 1-3, we're celebrating the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Film festivals will be held in 5 locations across BC. Stay tuned for details!

Our new report shows the continued systemic use of restraint and seclusion in BC schools. Read more.

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Post Secondary Education Policy

Policy Issue

Post-secondary education for all students, including those with special needs, provides opportunities for increased personal growth, employment and social activities. Post secondary education opens the door to people with disabilities to more fully participate in the labour market. Considerable research has shown that people with disabilities accessing post secondary education are employed at a much higher rate than those with just a high school diploma.

Attendance at college and university has not been an option for many students with special needs due in part to restrictive admission policies. As a result, students with special needs who do not have access to post-secondary education lose the associated benefits of increased employment and personal growth opportunities.

Even when people with developmental disabilities attend post secondary programs, they still face attitudinal barriers that limit their inclusion into college and university life. Many of the informal personal growth and social opportunities available to typical students are still inaccessible to people with developmental disabilities.


To ensure students with special needs have access to inclusive post-secondary education.


People with developmental disabilities have the capacity for lifelong learning which has not been recognized by post-secondary educators and administrators. Historically post secondary programs available to students with developmental disabilities have been segregated and limited to vocational or pre-employment training in the community college system. Access to university programs has been extremely restricted due to attitudinal, financial and academic barriers. Federal and provincial post-secondary funding has been significantly reduced and therefore post-secondary education is less accessible to students with developmental disabilities.

While BC’s public post secondary system has been providing education and training for students with special needs for over 25 years, much of this training has not been geared to meet current market demands.

There have been some positive changes in recent years. Parents have been successful in advocating for inclusive post-secondary opportunities, and some students with developmental disabilities are attending academic classes offered by colleges and universities. In addition, a few colleges and universities have taken pro-active steps towards inclusion by creating more flexible admission criteria. While these are positive steps, the majority of people with developmental disabilities do not have equitable access to post-secondary education.

Policy Statements

  1. People with developmental disabilities should have the opportunity to attend regular college and university programs, courses and activities.
  2. Adequate levels of support for disability-related needs must be available to people with developmental disabilities attending post-secondary education institutions.
  3. Post secondary institutions must be responsive in their programming and admission criteria to the education needs of people with developmental disabilities.
  4. Colleges and universities should foster an inclusive education community by promoting the rights of students with developmental disabilities.
  5. Colleges and universities should ensure that student services and supports are equally accessible by people with developmental disabilities.
  6. Students have the right to receive appropriate credits, diplomas or certificates in their area of study where they have fulfilled course requirements.