Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Source Publication

The Legacies of Institutionalisation: Disability, Law and Policy in the ‘Deinstitutionalised’ Community. Ed. Claire Spivakovsky, Linda Steele and Penelope Weller. Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2020.


This chapter steps away from the institutions of mental health facilities, the extended care home and the prison, to enter another institutional setting within which disability as a concept is constructed and materialises, but where, until recently, its lived experience has generally been excluded: the university. Unlike the institutional settings from which people with disabilities have conventionally wished to flee, the university is one into which many people, including those with disabilities, have sought entry. Historically, and even now, universities are regarded as elite institutions that restrict entry based on achievement and performance. As both an educational setting and a workplace, the university creates and enforces norms about who properly belongs within its sphere. Examining whether people with disabilities are permitted entry into the hallowed halls of the university and the conditions of their inclusion if and when they arrive exposes the dynamic interplay between the complex institutional logics of belonging and the inadequacy of the legal and policy regime of accommodation to dismantle the barriers to fully include people with disabilities.