About Inclusive Post-Secondary Education

As our understanding of the importance of inclusive post-secondary education grows more Universities and Colleges are starting to offer integrated learning options for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities. We have included some information below to encourage learning more about inclusive post-secondary education in Canada and its history

What is Inclusive Post Secondary Education?

Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) is about creating opportunities for all students to access post-secondary education. IPSE seeks to work with schools, professors, families, and students with developmental disabilities to offer learning opportunities to students with disabilities who do not qualify to attend university under general admissions. IPSE can be broken down into three models(cite):

  1. Mixed or Hybrid Model:
  • Students participate in social activities and academic classes with their peers in the general student body.
  • Additionally, they will also participate in classes with other students with disabilities that focus on areas like life skills training and transition options.
  1. Substantially Separate Model:
  • Students participate in post-secondary education only with other students with disabilities.
  • These are often known as life skill classes of transition programs
  1. Inclusive Individual Support Model
  • Students get personalized supports to attend post-secondary courses for audit or credit alongside their peers in the general student body.
  • As well, students will participate in student life at their university.
  • It uses a student-driven focus and is the model that Axcess Acadia is based on.
A Brief History of IPSE

IPSE options have existed for well over 30 years now, with the earliest examples in Canada starting in Alberta. Today Alberta has continued to be a leader with over 20 post-secondary institutions participating in Inclusion Alberta’s IPSE stream. Since then, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia have created IPSE networks and options within their respective provinces.

The increase in IPSE options in Canada has largely been driven by parents and professors who see the value of inclusive education for both the students and the schools. Today, IPSE streams are available at three Universities in Nova Scotia (Cape Breton University, Mount St. Vincent University, and Acadia University), as well as at the Nova Scotia Community College.


For information on Cape Breton University and Mount Saint Vincent University’s inclusive post-secondary education options follow their respective links to check out their websites.

Additional Resources