International Forum on Inclusive Higher Education in Kirov: Results and Prospects

November 1, 2018, was the last day of the Forum 'The creation of a supporting system for the higher education educational institutions activities in the implementation and development of inclusive education' held at Vyatka State University, the flagship university of the Kirov Region, with support from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation. The media partners of the Conference are Accreditation in Education Company and Higher Education Discovery.

The eventful business program of the second day was opened by the panel discussion dedicated to the issues of interaction between government authorities, non-governmental organizations and HEIs in the development of inclusive higher education. The speakers were Andrei Tretiak, Head of the Social Protection Department of the Vologda Region, Technological Examination Agency Expertises of France, Doctor of Economics, Professor of Practice at the University of Grenoble II (France), Natalia Ryabova, Chairperson of the Public Council under the Department of social protection of the population of the Vologda Region, Chairperson of the Non-Profit Charitable Foundation for Helping Wheelchair Users Brave Russian Hearts, Joomart Baisalov, Dean of the Faculty of Pedagogy of the Kyrgyz State University named after I. Arabaev. They presented domestic and foreign experience in interdepartmental interaction to ensure accessibility of higher education for people with disabilities. After the reports had been presented, a lot of questions were asked and opinions were shared.

The Forum continued in the format of workshops and round tables. The following was discussed there: experience and development prospects of resource training centers for people with disabilities based at HEIs, models of interdepartmental interaction to increase accessibility of higher education to people with disabilities, social entrepreneurship practices, scientific research and innovative solutions aimed at the development of an accessible environment.

The participants of the Forum shared their opinions on the role of the event, that took place at the platform of Vyatka State University, in the development of Russian inclusive higher education.

Dmitry Afanasyev, Rector of Cherepovets State University, a member of the Council of the Russian Union of Rectors, Mayor Advisor of Cherepovets:

- The Forum brought together the professionals sincerely interested in the topic whose importance is beyond doubt.

Today Russia is lagging behind other countries in terms of development of inclusive education and organization of interdepartmental interaction to support people with disabilities. But we are moving very quickly! We discussed the complex issues gradually clearing the barriers which prevented us from moving ahead.

Elena Ulyanova, Vice-President of the Rybakov Foundation:

- One of strategic initiatives of our foundation is the 'Equality of Opportunities' project closely related to the issues of inclusion. Rybakov Foundation keeps track of related activities, looks for the best Russian and world practices.

Today we can observe a very interesting trend: out of 100% of applications for participation in our contests practically 65 – 70% are aimed at solving the social tasks.

The Forum became a platform to search for fellow-fighters and communicate with them. One of the tasks of our foundation is to create a community of empathic people. Such people were brought together here.

Albina Bikbulatova, Vice-Rector for Methodological Work and Inclusive Education of Russian State Social University, Head of Abilympics National Center:

- With the theme of inclusion Russia rapidly joined the world community; we have to undergo the transformation, which lasted for 40 years in the world, within ten years. It has some advantages, for example, already existing huge experience which can be addressed. However, at the same time there are some disadvantages of rapid growth when it is very important to 'synchronize watches' on timely basis in the course of this big movement. It helps us understand what stage each of us is at, compare regional schools, see what changes take place in the attitude to inclusion in the society and the state.

The Forum in Vyatka was definitely successful as an effective platform to discuss topical issues. I’d like to express many thanks to Valentin Nikolaevich Pugach, Rector of Vyatka State University. He is a rector of novel type, a forward-looking person. I'd like to emphasize proper organization of the Forum platforms, an interesting agenda –it is evident that our colleagues from the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia together with the flagship university of the Kirov Region have done a great job! We will have to address the results of the Forum in the course of further activities to develop inclusive higher education.

The results of the Forum were summed up during the briefing, and the participants of the Forum are to adopt the resolution proposed for discussion and specific suggestions.

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