Where to next? Experiences of adults with intellectual disability after they complete a university program

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Background: Adults with intellectual disability who attended higher education programs have reported increasing self-determination, developing social skills and forming relationships. However, there is limited evidence about what adults with intellectual disability do after they complete such programs. This study investigated the experiences of adults with intellectual disability after they completed an inclusive higher education university program in Australia. Materials & Methods: This qualitative study used a phenomenological approach. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with adults with intellectual disability who had completed the program (N = 6). Data were thematically analysed and interpreted using Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory. Results: Participants developed lasting connections with mentors and staff but not with peers. Some participants accessed more opportunities, returned to study, increased topic-specific knowledge, and developed life skills; however, others faced challenges with transition from the program. Discussion: Findings highlight a need to explore ways to enhance the transition from the program to the wider university environment and/or employment. Suggestions for practice are provided to help inform future development of inclusive higher education programs for adults with intellectual disability. Conclusion: With appropriate support adults with intellectual disability can experience positive post-university outcomes and opportunities; however, limited social interaction with informal supports such as peers, challenges the inclusive model.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Early online date26 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2022


  • higher education
  • inclusion
  • inclusive university
  • intellectual disability
  • post-university experience


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