ASEFSU21 Catherine Moran


Professor Catherine Moran, Assistant Vice-Chancellor Academic of Canterbury speaks to ASEF about the University of Canterbury engagement in the 21st ASEF Summer University (#ASEFSU21) and the University’s work in the field of inclusive education.

University of Canterbury is the host university in New Zealand and main partner for the ASEFSU21. What motivates UC to support and join projects like the ASEF Summer University?

The University of Canterbury (‘UC’) is a globally-connected university that is committed to internationalisation. Hosting students from around the world is not only an opportunity to showcase UC, Christchurch, and New Zealand but an opportunity to develop ongoing relationships with the students who visit and our ASEF partners. UC is particularly delighted to be involved in the work this year on Youth with Disabilities. Ensuring education is inclusive is a priority for UC, and the work ASEF is doing aligns well with the UC Graduate Profile of producing students who are not only skilled in a core discipline but who are engaged with the community, globally aware, biculturally competent and confident and employable, innovative, and enterprising. ASEF reflects those attributes as well and it would seem a natural partnership.

ASEFSU21 covers 8 thematic angles linked to youth with disabilities: Mobility, rights protection and legislation, economic security and employment, inclusive education, health & well-being, participation in society, access to information and perceptions and attitudes. Next to inclusive education, in which areas is the university most engaged, for example through research or community initiatives?

UC has established an Inclusive and Special Education Research Group (ISER) to advance and support a growing community of researchers and scholars in inclusive education focussing on key elements like participation, belonging, learning and achievement of all children and young people in early childhood, compulsory and post-compulsory educational settings.

The thematic angles cut across many courses and programme offered but specifically UC has teaching and research in Special Education, Communication Disorders (Audiology and Speech Pathology) and Social Work.

To date, research and support have been undertaken in meeting the needs of diverse learners in New Zealand, the use of technology in education, exploring cultural and linguistic practices in education. This research is not only on a national level but also has a strong international focus.

Also since it’s founding in 1873, UC has been a significant contributor to the cultural, economic, and intellectual life of Christchurch, New Zealand, and the world. One of UC’s guiding principles is ‘tangata tu tangata ora, people prepared to make a difference’. This was most evident during the Christchurch earthquakes where over 9,000 students and staff were actively involved in caring for and rebuilding our community. Nationally and internationally, UC staff and students have contributed to over $2,000,000 in the form of providing various services. Initiatives include working with Christchurch City Council, the Tokyo Board of Education, UNESCO and the University of the South Pacific to name a few.

What support services does UC offer students and young staff with disabilities?

UC offers a wide range of services to champion the student experience here on campus.

The Disability Resource Service (DRS) assists students with disabilities by providing appropriate, disability-related study support services and specialist resources such as: practical support (e.g. interpreters, notetakers), assistive technology (e.g. digital voice recorders, CCTV, screen reading and voice recognition software), information in alternate formats (e.g. electronic, enlarged, tactile diagrams, braille) and special arrangements for exams (e.g. extra time, separate room, readers and/or writers)

UC also has a range of student and support services to give support and encouragement to new students, adult students, international students, Maori and Pacific students, postgraduate students, members of the LGBTQI community and academic support, health and well-being initiatives. UC provides a comprehensive healthcare facility featuring general practitioners, nurses and counselling services for staff and students.

In addition, the University of Canterbury Students Association (UCSA) advocacy & welfare service exists to provide independent, confidential support to students in areas of academic appeals, grievances or general concerns.

Please tell us more about UC’s Equity and Diversity Policy! How has it helped shaping the university life of students with disability and enriched the campus community?

Equity and diversity are critical to the intellectual and social integrity of the University. UC supports equity and diversity principles promote mutual respect and help make possible the full, effective use of the talents and abilities of everyone.

UC is committed to eliminating inappropriate discrimination, including on grounds of age, colour, disability, education, employment status, ethical belief, ethnic or national origins, language, family status, marital status, political opinion, race, religious belief, sex or gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic circumstances.

Biannually, UC in association with the UCSA and the UC Foundation co-creates, with students, student clubs and staff, and hosts DiversityFest. The theme of last year’s event can be encapsulated in #this is who I am, celebrating individual difference while promoting respect and dignity for others. We marketed the event as a special time to highlight who we are, what unites us and what challenges us. The festival created spaces and opportunities to talk about important issues that influence our present and future selves as students, staff, and leaders in the community including equity, respect, inclusion, and belonging.

DiversityFest wrapped up with UC Wairua Week (meaning the spirit, or the soul) which gave students and staff the opportunity to celebrate the place of faith and spirituality on campus. It was a chance for the UC community to express their diverse and energetic spiritual life.