The topic of university inclusion is today at the centre of the international and national debate. The reasons are related to a significant increase in the number of students with disabilities enrolled in university, as shown by the first report "Disability, Dsa and access to university education", presented these days by ANVUR (Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of the University system and Research) and CNUDD (National Conference of University Delegates for Disability). From this report, several steps forward for the inclusion of university students emerge, but also several critical dimensions that still require the attention of research and academic policies. This article will examine this issue and focus on exploring one of the critical nodes of university inclusion, namely the role of internships in the educational experience of students with disabilities and in their life project.
A growing literature has explored their academic experience; on the contrary, there is little research to date that explores the issues and challenges of a central aspect of the higher education and training pathway, namely internships.
Completing the study pathway in higher education is identified as a factor that can impact increasing the social and employment inclusion of people with disabilities (Union of Equality Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and consequent improvement of levels of Quality of Life (Giaconi, 2015). However, one of the main obstacles to obtaining a qualification is the accessibility of internships.
This article addresses the meaning and implications of internships for competences’ building and insertion into the labour market of disabled graduates. Therefore, it explores the state of play of research, identifies the most critical issues, and reports about the running debate in the field.
Keywords: Work-based learning; internship; employability; higher education students with disabilities; university inclusion; life design