01-09-2019 01.01.2023

Including and Connecting in Higher Education: networking opportunities for independent lives (HiLives)

Despite the progress of the last years, young people with disabilities still have the greatest difficulties in participating in social activities and access work. Faced with an educational system which, over the years, has been influenced by an ideology that favors classifications and competition among students, rather than cooperation and solidarity, equal opportunities in higher education (HE) are still in the process of being achieved. In the specific case of students with intellectual and developmental disorder (IDD), and although their inclusion in regular schools is already implemented, the opportunity for these students to accede to HE is still in the process of being achieved. It is, therefore, time to foster the transition of young people with IDD to HE and to employment, guaranteeing the opportunity to continue their socialization process, actively participating in the community, developing socio-professional skills together with their peers.

Under this context, the most important expected impact of this project is the creation of a new scenario to open up the opportunities for people with IDD, both considering HE and the labour market. This population has the greatest difficulty in obtaining and maintaining a job, which has led to their social isolation. However, it is also evident that these young people, with the support of their families, intend to invest in their training to enter the labour market more easily, gaining their financial independence and increasing their social participation.


The project HiLives aims to create opportunities to share knowledge and practices in this field, towards the creation of a strategic partnership in the area of (i) inclusion of students with IDD in HE Institutions, and (ii) transition to an active and independent life, exploring the role that digital media can play in this process. HE is valued in our society and can lead to a meaningful career, new friendships and interests, as well as a rewarding life, and should be an opportunity for all students. The current digital tools are instruments that have potential in this field and can be seen as a resource to approach young people.

HiLives - Including and Connecting in Higher Education: networking opportunities for independent lives - aims at developing the following Intellectual Outputs:

  •  a transnational / European framework for the development of an inclusive, flexible and student centered HE curriculum for young adults with IDD
  • a prototype of a digital tool to connect and network opportunities, tackling gaps and mismatches between the expectations, skills and needs of young adults with IDD, and both the HE offer and the employment opportunities
  • a Transnational / European good practice guide for HE Institutions, Secondary Schools and Employers, aiming to help young adults with IDD to access HE and start an independent life.


This project will allow eight partners from four countries to cooperate, innovate and share experiences, knowledge and good practices under the purpose of networking opportunities for independent lives of young students with IDD in HE. Four of these partners are HE Institutions (University of Aveiro, Portugal; University of Ghent, Belgium; University of Salamanca, Spain; and University of Iceland, Iceland). The other four partners are Institutions and Associations that work directly with young adults with IDD and their families. 

University of Aveiro, Portugal project leader

University of Ghent, Belgium

University of Salamanca, Spain

University of Iceland, Iceland

ASSOL, Portugal

Pais-em-Rede, Portugal

FORMEM, Portugal

AvisPT21, Portugal


The results of the project will not only be the Intellectual Outputs, but also the skills and personal experiences that all project partners and participants in the activities will acquire. This important domain of knowledge and experience gained by the participants, learners and staff will certainly remain after the project timeline. There will also be increased skills in approaching the inclusion of IDD people and also in the development of a shared view on the European panorama regarding the inclusive nature of HE Institutions.

HiLives activities and results can have a large potential impact both in people (students with IDD, their Families, Caregivers, Staff of HE Institutions, Teachers and Employers) and in organisations and systems (HE Institutions, Secondary schools, Associations and Institutions, Ministries of Education, and European policy-makers). Sharing practices and Innovating in the domain of the inclusion of citizens with IDD (in HE and in the labour market) can have, unquestionably, a high impact in society. This can benefit not only the primary target group of this project (students with IDD) but also the involved Partners and other participants and stakeholders (families, caregivers, schools, teachers, university staff, employers).