Statistics and key findings
Publisert: 07.mar 2018
Endret: 07.mar 2018
There are no clear statistics on students with disabilities across the Nordic education sector. On a European level, the Eurostudent survey has investigated this question, leading to some major findings relevant for the Nordic HEI sector. The research has used self-assessment as a method, and suggests the following share of students (in percentage of the total student population)6 :
- Denmark: 23 %
- Finland: 17 %
- Norway: 22 %
- Sweden: 18 %
Self-reporting of disability represents a methodical problem, and we see that most HEIs operate with lower numbers, most of this registration is students applying for support during their study or at the examination. From participating HEIs we have following registration:
- Denmark: 4 %
- Finland: < 1 %
- Iceland: 8 %
- Norway: 5,5 %
- Sweden: 3 %
This remarkable difference in numbers has several reasons. This might be because of students not want to disclose, the number of students with mental health difficulties does not register at the disability office, and out of experience several students do not apply for accommodations out of several reasons.
This leads to an uncertainty about the liability of figures presented, and there is a need for better statistics to have a better data source for later investigations.
Disability and mobility – key findings
In general, several countries report of a significant increase of students crossing borders the latest decade. Still, introducing tuition fees in some of the Nordic countries, has led to an overall reduction the last few years.
Do students travel within the Nordic countries? General statistics from each country on student mobility can be read out of most country reports. Statistics from Nordisk Statistikbank shows the general picture:
Where do young move to study?7
Source: Nordisk Statistikbank
Graphics by Hallå Norden
Even though the numbers of students going abroad is not very high when it comes to travelling to the Nordic country, we can register a significant number of students move across the Nordic countries. What is more important is to answer the question about mobility for students with disability, and especially between the Nordic countries. If we use the Eurostudent V as source, a high number of students with disabilities should be moving across Nordic borders as exchange students or “free movers”, even the moderate figures from the disability offices indicates a considerable numbers of students with disabilities participating in student mobility.
There is not very much trustworthy information in this field. Our limited sources of information are:
- National data from financing institutions (national levels, Erasmus programmes, Nordplus students)
- Students asking for support at the HEIs included in this investigation
- Other registration systems at national level
The proportion of known students with a disability participating in an exchange programme is very low. We have learned
- The academic year of 2015 over 12 000 students with known disabilities asked for support measures during their studies. It is therefore a big question why we cannot find them in our statistics (the Swedish country report)
- Luleå Technical University reports that no one has asked for support for going abroad for several years.
- In Norway, the largest university (NTNU) reports of only a handful of requests from students going abroad, but there are interesting numbers from the Norwegian State Loan funding organisation, which gives extra grants for students with disability. A total of 171 students with disability asked for extra funding for studying abroad in the study year of 2014-2015. 25 of them went to Denmark, and seven went to Sweden. We know very little about these students, a guess can be that several of them are taking a full programme abroad, and not an exchange programme. In contradiction to the numbers applying for support through the Norwegian State Loan programme, no students at all applied for the extra funding through the Erasmus+ programme. This strengthens the assumption that for several reasons, it is more difficult to participate as an exchange student than being a free mover on a full programme.
- In Denmark, the Nordplus programme is playing an important role. SDU had the study year of 2015-2016 131 students abroad through Nordplus, and as many as 27 of them were known by the SPS system. This is 2 % of the student mass joining this programme, and a good number compared to the 4 % rate of students with disability registered by SDU.
- The two Finnish HEIs participating in the ESMHE project, reports of very low numbers of known students going abroad with a disability. Only 0-2 students arrive the University of Turku with a disability each year, and only 0-1 of the outgoing students reports of a disability. The University of Jyväskylä reports of equally low numbers.
- The University of Iceland (UI) reports of very low numbers on Erasmus+ extra funding due to disability (only 3 registered students overall). 36 students with support due to disability reasons has been abroad, but there is no record if they had some kind of extra funding for travelling abroad. Seventeen international students have, through a 5-year period, had an agreement with UI regarding special support.
In general, we can conclude that there is a significant imbalance of students with a disability going abroad through exchange programmes, and we can assume that the numbers of free movers are equally low. We can speculate about reasons for this underrepresentation, it could be lack of support systems at a national and local level, the student’s personal reasons for not going abroad, or as shown in the Norwegian investigation carried out by Universell in 2015 – lack of information and knowledge between key stakeholders important for student mobility.