Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education Standards

The Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education Standards are research-informed and align with the national accreditation standards for inclusive higher education.

Inclusive higher education (IHE) is institution-approved access to higher education for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) that allows for the same rights, privileges, experiences, benefits, and outcomes that result from a college experience as an enrolled student. In developing, implementing, and evaluating IHE programs, faculty, and staff should continuously ask themselves, “How do we do this for any enrolled college student?” Enrolling in an IHE program allows students with IDD to actively earn meaningful credentials that prepare them to seek competitive integrated employment in their areas of interest and live self-determined lives in their community.

Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education Framework

  1. Institution Approved. The institution of higher education ensures that admissions, programs of study, courses, and credentials for students with IDDs are approved through the institution’s formal process.
  2. Leverage Existing University Services and Systems. The IHE utilizes existing university services, systems, policies, and procedures, which are expanded to include students with IDD. This approach embeds IHE into colleges and universities with minimal costs, aiding fiscal and programmatic self-sustainability.
  3. Financially Accessible. The institution of higher education amends its U.S. Department of Education federal financial aid application to apply for the CTP program designation. Obtaining the CTP designation opens up federal financial aid eligibility for students with IDD who attend a college or university with the CTP designation. Minnesota students with IDD are also considered for Minnesota state financial aid if they attend a Minnesota college or university with the CTP designation.
  4. National Accreditation Standards Alignment (https://www.iheacouncil.org/ ). Adherence to the Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education standards ensures participating programs align with nationally recognized accreditation standards of inclusive higher education.
  5. Admissions. The institution adopts admission requirements for students with IDD that do not require a high school diploma, GED, or a national standardized test or Adult Basic Education assessments. Admitted students with IDD have the student status that allows for the same rights, privileges, and benefits as any other enrolled student.
  6. Advising. Institutional staff provide supplemental advising. This support extends beyond academics, including person-centered planning, transitioning to college life, and connecting students with IDD to resources, activities, services, and amenities on campus and in the greater community.
  7. Student Support. IHE programs provide peer support for students with IDD in academics, employment, independent living, and social engagement. The peers, who are also enrolled students at the same institution, may be volunteers or direct employees. Some peers may have an option to earn academic credit toward their degree requirements. The collaborative relationships between students with IDD and their peers create an opportunity to learn with and from one another. The IHE staff oversees the recruitment, training, and continuous development of peer support to ensure effective support delivery.
  8. Program of Study Accessibility. IHE staff must provide a process to outline the individual learning objectives for each student with IDD for their enrolled courses based on the course syllabi and learning objectives with accommodations and modifications as needed. Modifications are allowed for enrolled students with IDD if the course is being audited. The IHE staff encourages and supports the use of Universal Design (UD). Training and professional development are made available to all faculty.
  9. Guided by a Person-Centered Plan (PCP). The IHE program is designed to ensure that student's academic, employment, and self-determined living goals are supported and guided by their PCP. IHE staff are professionally trained in the provisions and processes of PCP. IHE program staff collaborate with the student to develop, implement, and regularly update their PCP following their self-determined goals. The student decides who to invite and attends their PCP meetings.

Inclusive Higher Education Components

Academic Program (Institution-approved credential and Program of Study)

Institutions of Higher Education must offer credential(s) (e.g., degree, certificate, or non-degree credential) that have been approved through a formal process at the institution.

  • The student's program of study is comprised of the institution’s current general catalog course offerings (i.e., segregated class instruction does not occur). Students select courses from multiple disciplines across the institution that are part of the curriculum for degree or certificate programs that align with their personal interests and career goals.
  • The student’s program of study must lead to competitive integrated employment opportunities in the student’s chosen career area.
  • If there is a First Year Experience, Introduction to College, or other required courses for incoming enrolled students, students with IDD must have the same access to these courses.

Career Advancement

An integral component of an IHE credential is gaining relevant job experience, through internships and employment that aligns with the student’s PCP. students with IDD engage in career development activities, work experiences, internships, and paid jobs while enrolled. IHE programs must:

  • Provide supported access to existing campus career services centers and other existing resources that any enrolled student on campus uses for career development, job fairs, resume preparation, interview planning, and job placement.
  • Commit to and invest in the necessary staff/faculty resources and professional development for employment services and competitive integrated employment for individuals with IDD. Two professional development options include the VCU Supported Employment in College online course and DirectCourse College of Employment Services from the College of Direct Support.
  • Facilitate and support work experiences for students enrolled in IHE programs through internships and employment to gain experience in interest areas identified in their PCP and as needed to fulfill the certificate requirements. The internships or jobs should be paid or serve as a credit-bearing course component in ways customary for the institution. Work experience must focus on the student’s chosen career area.

Self-Determined Living (Independent Living and Social)

College is a time in every student's life to mature, explore their life goals, and become empowered for a self-determined life. To ensure that students enrolled in IHE programs have these same experiences, programs must:

  • Utilize the student’s PCP to guide their self-determined living goals.
  • Support students in embracing college life, including but not limited to engaging in the campus community clubs, events, seminars, workshops, activities, and services afforded to them as college students.
  • If on- or off-campus housing is made available to students, institutions will offer housing with additional support to students with IDD.