Access and Inclusion

Along with the challenge of making connections and feeling a sense of belonging at post-secondary institutions, students within equity-deserving groups face even larger social engagement barriers. Barriers can pertain to many things, such as finances, accessibility and cultural safety among many more. “Beyond Accommodation: Removing Barriers to Academic and Social Engagement for Students with Disabilities” explains how to enhance inclusion for students experiencing disabilities or any other students within equity-deserving groups. Here are a few of these methods:

Blue ArrowPeer-to-peer social justice workshops for students.
These workshops help students form social connections, receive support, provide a space for inclusivity, and build compassion between students. Furthermore, these workshops can provide students with a sense of belonging and address areas that their institution can improve on for greater accessibility and inclusion.

Blue ArrowHosting orientations to best support equity deserving students when starting their academic journey.
This method gives equity deserving students such as international students and students with disabilities, academic support and an opportunity for engagement with others who may face similar challenges. It helps to prepare and guide students in their academic journey and inform them of the support available to them.

Example: START Orientation at University of Guelph

The University of Guelph provides separate orientations for specific incoming students such as START International for internationals students and START Indigenous for Indigenous students.

Blue ArrowImplementing peer-to-peer mentorship programs to develop a social support system.
This method allows students to find common ground with other students, develop relationships,
and have a support system readily available. Having a peer mentor throughout a student’s academic journey can not only enhance student engagement for both the mentor and mentee, but also help with retention and community on campus. You can access our peer support toolkit here.

Blue ArrowOrganizations that are dedicated to students of equity-deserving groups
This method is the essential backbone to supporting students, especially when a school must navigate various situations students may face both in and outside of the classroom. These organizations advocate for different types of student needs, help bridge the gap between students and their place of education, and provide a supportive space for all students.

Example: Open Path International Student Service Centre

OPISSC is a non-profit organization in Ottawa that aims to welcome and provide a nuturing community for international students and help them thrive in unfamiliar environments. Led by individuals who were international students themselves, they strive to provide various services for internationals students to help them feel at home.


Guide: PDF Version