DiversaMENTE office: support for students with disabilities and SLD

IULM’s access schemes for people with disabilities: mentoring and other targeted support

Università IULM has always promoted the culture of inclusion through the constant work of the DiversaMENTE office, which is dedicated to supporting students with disabilities and Specific Learning Disorders (SLD) throughout their university careers, starting from the application process all the way to their graduation.

In fact, IULM has among its key priorities the equal access to culture and education for all students. Exemplifying the importance attached by the university to ensuring equal opportunities, Prof. Massimo De Giuseppe - who plays a leading role in the work of the DiversaMENTE office - has been appointed as the rector’s proxy to inclusion and disability and psychological counseling.

The DiversaMENTE office is committed to supporting these students daily through the implementation of a personalized pathway based on the needs of each individual in order to maximize new applications from prospective students; and minimize the dropout rate of the enrolled students. Below are data demonstrating the growing success of this initiative:

Enrollment year a.a. 2019/20 a.a. 2020/21 a.a. 2021/22
Dropout between the 1st and 2nd year 4 6 4
Number of students with disabilities enrolled in the 1st year 15 22 26
% 26,7% 27,3% 15,4%

Enrollment year  a.a. 2019/20 a.a. 2020/21 a.a. 2021/22
Dropout between the 1st and 2nd year 18 24 18
Number of students with SLD enrolled in the 1st year 98 136 149
% 18,4% 17,6% 12,1%

In general, the main services offered by the DiversaMENTE office are:

  • Guidance and support service for admissions:
    • Admission tests: during the test registration procedure, candidates with disabilities and SLD can request compensatory/dispensatory measures;
    • Incoming freshmen orientation: support for students in their choice of the degree course and in the initial phase of attending classes, providing them with useful information and strategies for embarking on their university journey;
  • Assistance with administrative procedures: the DiversaMENTE service offers support for administrative procedures related to university careers, in collaboration with the other university offices;
  • Support for study:
    • Computer and technological aids: the office provides the students with computer and technological aids when requested for exams and study sessions;
    • Didactic support with Peer Tutors: the DiversaMENTE office implements support activities with peer tutors (Master's degree students) for students with disabilities and SLD to eliminate or reduce obstacles in their university career;
    • Individual interviews: the DiversaMENTE office acts as didactic mediator with faculty in relation to students' needs for attending courses and passing exams;
    • Digital texts for study: Information provided about accessible texts;
    • Courses on study methods: the office organizes courses on study methods in the first semester of the year;
    • International mobility: the Erasmus+ programme for people with disabilities or special needs allocates funds each year to support the mobility of people with special needs, giving particular attention to students and staff whose physical, mental or, more generally, health conditions are such that they cannot participate in the programme without additional funding for the extra costs incurred linked to support, accommodation and pedagogical and technical support services. The following services may be eligible, according to individual needs: specific accommodation, travel assistance, medical presence, support equipment, adaptation of learning materials, accompanying persons, etc.;
  • Job placement:     
    • Internship: the DiversaMENTE office, in collaboration with the Career Service office, offers assistance in finding companies  suitable for  carrying out the work experience required by the Degree Course, in evaluating offers, in preparing interviews and in defining the contract;
    • Placement: the DiversaMENTE office constantly supports graduates in seeking specific placement opportunities for protected categories. The office also supports students who are orphans, refugees, victims of terrorism in finding placement opportunities;
  • Psychological support: IULM provides its students with Counseling Services in the form of individual interviews with professional psychologists in order to prevent and manage psychological problems that may be encountered during the university career;
  • Fees and financial benefits:
    • Tuition exemption: students with a disability equal to or higher than 66% can request exemption from payment of university fees by submitting an appropriate application to the DiversaMENTE office;
    • Scholarships:
      • 4 degree awards in memory of Antonio and Luigi Goi and Angela De Giacomi Goi and divided as follows: €2,500.00 to 1st place, €1,500.00 to 2nd place; €1,000.00 to 3rd place; €200.00 to 4th place;
      • Macciachini Monti Foundation: 5 annual scholarships amounting to €9,000 each intended for deserving university students, aged up to thirty years, resident in Lombardy, who are in difficult economic conditions aggravated by a situation of disability or neurodiversity. In particular, 2 scholarships are for students with visual or hearing disabilities, 2 scholarships are for students with neurodiversity in the area of specific learning disorders, 1 scholarship is for students with neurodiversity in the area of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD);
      • Fondazione Villa Mirabello Onlus: the Fondazione Villa Mirabello ONLUS intends to honor the memory of Monsignor Edoardo Gilardi by promoting a call for applications reserved for blind or visually impaired young people with the awarding of 4 scholarships worth € 2,000.00 each and 4 scholarships worth € 1,000.00 each;
  • IULM’s accommodation policy and strategy for people with disabilities:
    • Mobility orientation courses for blind students: the office offers mobility orientation courses for blind students who need to memorize routes between buildings on campus to reach classrooms;
    • Free-barrier campus: the university is committed to the creation of a free-barrier campus equipped with infrastructures and services dedicated to students with disabilities, such as accessible entrances, dedicated toilets, lifts, and dedicated parking spaces. Even the spaces inside the buildings have been designed with this purpose; dedicated spaces for students in wheelchairs are present both in the classrooms and in the library;
    • University Residence: inside the IULM Residence there are 4 units reserved to disabled students with internet connection and satellite TV: wardrobe, desk, en-suite bathroom and centralized air conditioning.