This September, nineteen higher education professionals from five different Egyptian public universities and officials from the Egyptian Ministry of Education will travel to Missoula to learn about how to ensure equal access to higher education for students with disabilities. The study tour is being hosted by the University of Montana’s Dr. Kaitlin Fertaly, RTC:Rural Research Associate, Dr. Anna-Margaret Goldman, Director of MonTECH, Amy Capolupo, Disability Services for Students Director, and the University of Colorado Boulder (CU).
Participants start their tour at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT, and then will travel to the University of Colorado, Boulder. They will also visit two community colleges, Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, MT and Aims Community College in Greeley, CO.
“During their 10 days in the U.S., Egyptian university staff and leaders will learn how the University of Montana and the University of Colorado structure and administer their Disability Support Services program,” said Fertaly. “The goal is for participants to be better equipped with knowledge about university policies that promote inclusion and strategies for overcoming barriers to access.”
The partnership between UM and CU, along with local community colleges, highlights how universities with different needs, resources, and student populations provide disability support. “The University of Montana and the Rural Institute are uniquely suited to provide the program participants with a perspective what challenges students with disabilities from rural area face on college campuses and what strategies and partnerships can be leveraged to provide equal access and opportunities for all,” Fertaly said.
“The University of Montana and the Rural Institute offers the program participants a unique perspective what challenges students with disabilities from rural area face on college campuses and what strategies and partnerships can be leveraged to provide equal access and opportunities for all students,” said Fertaly. “UM’s DSS office, for example, works interdependently with multiple partners both on and off campus to provide its students with the best resources possible, whereas CU’s model provides support services through various university-based departments. Given these different models, the program will demonstrate how DSS offices can work in both large and small settings.”
The U.S.-Egypt study tour is being organized with AMIDEAST, an American non-profit organization engaged in international education and development activities in the Middle East and North Africa, and USAID to improve equality for people with disabilities in Egypt. Helm, a social enterprise in Cairo, Egypt, which promotes inclusion of people with disabilities, is also an organizing partner. Together, these organizations are part of a growing effort to support Egyptian public universities to meet the needs of students with disabilities and to promote equal access.
“We are really excited for this visit as it is a great example of the growing international partnerships and collaborations at UM,” said Fertaly. “International programs such as this one provide an opportunity for all parties involved to gain new insights into commonly shared issues, increasing our understanding and compassion for the challenges of others along the way.”