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Experiences of remote participation on retention and experiences of university students with intellectual disabilities and peer mentors (placement students) during COVID-19 restrictions

Project Details

Funding partner

Flinders University, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, COVID-19 Agility Grant


May 2020 - Nov 2020


Gobec, C., Turnbull, M., & Rillotta, F. (2021). Lessons Learnt from Transitioning to Online Mentoring and Learning at University during COVID-19 for Adults with Intellectual Disability. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities.


DCI researchers


This project aimed to explore experiences of Flinders University’s Up the Hill Project (UTHP) participants and peer mentors who have transitioned from face-to-face peer mentoring/learning to online during COVID-19; and to document processes involved with transitioning from face-to-face peer mentoring/learning to online from an operational/ practice perspective. Inclusive higher education helps the university community better understand diversity (Grigal et al. 2016). Yet, opportunities for people with intellectual disability (ID) to participate in university (in person or online) are limited due to diverse learning abilities/support needs. Flinders University’s UTHP supports access, inclusion and participation of adults with ID at university. The practices of UTHP were impacted by COVID-19. Participants and peer mentors had to adjust to using remote technology to connect and learn online. This study extended research by examining the effects of remote participation on retention and experiences of students with ID and peer mentors (placement students). There is very limited literature to directly inform the new online practices of UTHP, and to our knowledge this is the first inclusive university program providing online mentoring and learning opportunities for people with ID at an Australian university.


Applied research directly influencing continuous improvement and development of the Up the Hill Project and other similar programs.

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