Staff perception on including students with physical disabilities at a South African university

Mashudu R. Mphohoni*, Martha Geiger, Surona Visagie, Mashudu Manafe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: International and local policy frameworks on disability promote inclusive higher education practices for students with disabilities (SWD). However, the actual application of these frameworks concerning students with physical disabilities (SWPD) in any School of Health Care Sciences (SHCS) is uncertain in South African universities. Objectives: This study aimed to explore the perceptions of academic and admission staff on the inclusion of SWPD in SHCS at a South African university. The study was carried out at a University of Health Sciences in South Africa. Method: A qualitative study in which respondents (n = 12) were interviewed in depth about their perceptions on the inclusion of SWPD in the SHCS. Thematic analysis was used in the data assessment. Results: The results revealed three main themes: policy discourse, environmental effects on inclusion and SWPD enrolment. Respondents reported the lack of a disability inclusion policy and disability unit to support SWD in general. The respondents also noted that there were environmental challenges that could potentially affect the inclusion of SWPD in SHCS study programmes. Respondents also indicated that there was no SWPD enrolment as the university’s current inclusion and/or quota system does not include SWD. Conclusion: The findings of the study showed a lack of disability inclusion policy, environmental challenges and lack of SWPD enrolment. Based on the study findings, it can be concluded that inclusion of SWPD at this university may be negatively influenced. Contribution: The study findings contribute to the field of disability and the inclusion of SWPD in higher education institutions (HEIs).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera1347
JournalAfrican Journal of Disability
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • SWPD enrollment
  • disability unit
  • health care sciences
  • inclusion policy
  • inclusive higher education practises
  • students with physical disabilities


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