Student Perspectives: Paul-Adrien Viala (CY)

Are there any inclusive practices at your university that you would like to highlight?

The practice I want to highlight from CY is the provision of a disability advisor who helps students with disabilities to find the accommodations they need and access tools that can help their learning.

The study arrangements can be very diverse: you can have a secretary, expansion of courses, the loan of a laptop, a badge for access to car parks, loans from university libraries, and so on.

I think the university has a very important role in helping students with disabilities to succeed in their studies. As I am also a student ambassador in CY, when I work in the health centre I see a lot of students with disabilities coming for these arrangements.

Are there aspects of life at university that you think are not inclusive?

I would criticise the lack of visibility, especially long-term visibility, of inclusive practices. Sometimes I feel that practices have very good aims, but they are vague and unfocused: the means to arrive at the goal is not clearly defined, so it doesn’t help very much.

What new or improved practices would you like to see?

There should be more attention paid to those who suffer from mental illness, and the provision of psychologists in all universities. For example, I have a mental health first-aid certificate, which I’ve done at CY and they’ve been paying for the certification. I think there is a lot more that can be done to help students with these issues.

I don’t blame the universities for students’ mental disorders, but the pressure on students can make these disorders worse. One of the biggest fears that students have is financial problems: in France, university is free, or you pay €100 or €200 for the year so it’s not expensive. But studies are expensive anyway because you need to eat, live, and have a job. President Macron wants to increase the tuition fees for French universities, so that’s a big fear for students who don’t have rich parents.

I’ve found it very interesting to hear the other students talk about teachers and the way they take into consideration – or don’t take into consideration – disability and other inclusion issues. In CY, we have a long way to go in educating teachers about these topics or holding them accountable for their actions.