The National Center for Research and Development has announced the second edition of the “Accessible University” competition, the aim of which is to increase the availability of studies for people with disabilities.

The competition will finance projects that allow universities to achieve the model of an accessible university, i.e. to eliminate barriers in access to higher education.

Projects may include activities such as ensuring the accessibility of communication, websites, IT tools and educational procedures and programs, the purchase of supporting technologies or trainings to increase the awareness and competences of university staff in the field of disability.

It is also possible to carry out work in the field of architectural accessibility under the project, but projects related to this area only will not be financed. It is imperative that the project also includes other forms of support, such as enabling students with disabilities to deal with student affairs via the Internet, or online examinations and lectures.

The minimum project value in the competition is 100,000 euro. Depending on the chosen path, an university may obtain up to 15 million PLN. The amount of co-financing depends not on the number of students educated at the university, but on the level of ensuring the accessibility of education, at which the university is placed now and which it wants to achieve.

The mini path is addressed to universities just starting to create institutional support and striving to achieve the basic level guaranteeing opening up to the needs of people with disabilities. In this path, you can get up to 1 million PLN for projects lasting up to 24 months.

The midi path is intended for projects aimed at achieving a significant increase in accessibility for people with disabilities. The activities listed in the competition regulations as indicated to be implemented under this path include the elimination of accessibility barriers by adapting teaching materials, purchasing adequate specialist equipment and software, adapting IT tools and forms of education, and adjusting internal processes, such as enrolment. Universities can obtain up to 4 million PLN for this type of projects.

The maxi path, in turn, is addressed to universities leading in the implementation of the idea of accessibility. It has two main objectives: 1) to extend or improve the existing services and forms of adaptation to achieve the maximum standard of accessibility, and 2) to create centers of excellence in the field of university accessibility.

In the case of midi and maxi paths, projects may last longer than 24 months, but not longer than the deadline for projects completion, i.e. October 31, 2023.

Moreover, under the maxi path only the universities where the accessibility unit (e.g. Office for Persons with Disabilities) has been operating for at least five years and where at least 150 people with disabilities studies can apply for support.

Other paths are open to all public and private universities. Only universities that received funding in the previous edition of the competition cannot apply for funding. The applicant may not be a university in liquidation, for which consent for liquidation was requested, or for which the authorization to conduct studies has been suspended.

Partnership projects are allowed and there are no restrictions as to the legal and organizational nature of the partner. It should be remembered that in the case of a partnership with another university, the partner university may not simultaneously receive support under the project for activities aimed at increasing accessibility in its institutions.

In the competition, the university’s own contribution is required, which must be at least 3% of eligible expenditure in the project, it may be non-monetary.

The call for applications starts on March 16th and will last until May 8th this year. A given university may submit only one application in the competition. Applications will be accepted only electronically in the SOWA system.

The total budget of the competition is 150 million PLN. However, it may happen that ultimately  the allocation will be higher. In the first edition of the competition, a budget of 200 million PLN was planned, but it was increased to 321 million PLN, so that all applications recommended for co-financing would receive funds. This situation may happen again.

Detailed information on the ” Accessible University II” competition is available on the National Center for Research and Development website.

The “Accessible University II” competition is organized under the Knowledge Education Development Operational Program (POWER 3.5).