Up the Hill Project - Flinders University



The Up the Hill Project at Flinders University was awarded the Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching

Dr Fiona Rillotta, Lorraine Lindsay, Jenny Widdop, Disability and Community Inclusion, College of Nursing & Health Sciences

The award was for:

An innovative, structured and sustained Work-Integrated Learning program in Disability and Community Inclusion that responds to student, community and industry needs.

Further details about the award can be found at the following links:



The above photo is of Dr Fiona Rillotta (Up the Hill Project Advisor), Lorraine Lindsay (past Up the Hill Project Coordinator), Jenny Widdop (current Up the Hill Project Coordinator) with Assoc. Prof. Chris Brebner (Dean of Education, College of Nursing and Health Sciences) and Prof. Alison Kitson (Vice-President and Executive Dean, College of Nursing and Health Sciences)





The Up the Hill Project provides an inclusive and supportive opportunity to enable people with an intellectual disability to:
  • access the University environment
  • develop social skills and social networks
  • experience a range of educational opportunities and activities.


What We Do

The Up the Hill Project offers people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to experience University life.

The Project supports participants to audit selected topics of their choice at Flinders University. Participants are given a mentor to assist with enrolment and ongoing support to access university services.

At the start of each semester the participant chooses a topic(s) to audit.

The participant's mentor will assist them to meet the lecturer who teaches the topic to get permission to participate in the lecture.

Mentors support participants to be involved at their level of comfort. 


What do Up the Hill Project students do?

The Up the Hill Project offers participants the opportunity to be involved in a three-year program to audit topics of their choice at Flinders University.

Goal setting

Mentors and the coordinator assist participants to set and achieve goals. Examples of some goals are to:

  • increase your social network by meeting and talking to new people
  • learn something new about a topic of interest that you can share with friends and family
  • build your confidence by putting your hand up and joining in on class discussions.

Auditing Topics

Participants audit one topic during each University semester, two topics a year and six topics over three years.

The Up the Hill Project is not just about auditing topics, participants have the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, join in social activities and much more!

Auditing a topic means participants can experience university life. Participants can:

  • attend lectures
  • engage in class discussions
  • have their own library card
  • access the library
  • meet new people
  • experience a range of educational opportunities and activities.

Find out more about auditing a topic at Flinders University.

Participants of the Up the Hill Project have the opportunity to audit a topic of their choice. The aim is to develop skills and improve the potential for future employment.

Topics offered at Flinders University include:

  • Computer Science
  • Archaeology 
  • Politics
  • History
  • Women's Studies
  • Sociology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Visual Arts.

Find out more about the wide range of topics at Flinders Uni.


Presentation Day

To recognise their achievements participants are invited to do a presentation of their choice at the end of each semester.

Family members, lecturers, mentors and other university academics are also invited.

Participants also receive a certificate of attendance for their selected topic. 



After three years with the project, participants can attend a graduation ceremony to receive a certificate of achievement.

Participants can demonstrate a sense of pride in completing three years at Flinders University in the presence of family and peers. 



Future Up the Hill Project Students

Do you have an interest in going to University?

Do you like learning?

Do you have an intellectual disability?

Characteristics for successful participation:

The person

  • has an intellectual disability and is eligible to receive the Disability Support Pension.
  • states an interest in further education.
  • is able to make choices from the available University topic offerings.
  • should display reasonable interpersonal skills (i.e. be non-disruptive in social and educational settings).
  • must be able to arrange their own travel to and from the University.
  • must be able to arrange and care for immediate personal needs.  


Forms and Applications

If you are interested in this program fill out an application form  2017 UTHP Application Form (DOC 85KB)

The coordinator will get back to you as soon as possible.



UTHP End of Year Newsletter 2014 (PDF 2MB)

UTHP end of year newsletter 2016 (PDF 3MB)  


Recommended readings and resources on Inclusive Post Secondary Education (IPSE):

Bruce, C. (May, 2011). Inclusive Post-Secondary Education for Diverse Learners: Supporting Transition . Acadia University, School of Education. Prepared for the Post-Secondary Disability Services Division, Labour and Advanced Education and Senior Administration at Acadia University


Gibson, C. J. (1997). The Next Step: A pilot study of inclusive university education for a selected group of people with an intellectual disability. Bachelor of Applied Science Honours Degree in Disability Studies. Unpublished Honours Thesis, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia. The next step_Gibson (PDF 9MB)


Grantley, J. (2000). Towards inclusion in university of people with intellectual disabilities. Paper presented at the International Special Education Congress (ISEC) 2000: Including the Excluded, University of Manchester.


Grigal, M., Hart, D., & Weir, C. (2012). A Survey of Postsecondary Education Programs for Students With Intellectual Disabilities in the United States. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 9(4), 223-233.


Jones, M. M., & Goble, Z. (2012). Creating Effective Mentoring Partnerships for Students With Intellectual Disabilities on Campus. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 9(4), 270-278.


Lobban, M. J. (2002). A Journey of Self-Discovery: Inclusion of individuals with intellectual disability in university. Bachelor of Applied Science Honours Degree in Disability Studies. Unpublished Honours Thesis, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia. A journey to self discovery_Lobban (PDF 14MB)


O'Connor, B., Kubiak, J., Espiner, D., & O'Brien, P. (2012). Lecturer Responses to the Inclusion of Students With Intellectual Disabilities Auditing Undergraduate Classes. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 9(4), 247-256.


Uditsky, B., & Hughson, E. (2012). Inclusive Postsecondary Education-An Evidence-Based Moral Imperative. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 9(4), 298-302. doi: 10.1111/jppi.12005.


Other Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Programs:


Policies and Procedures

The Up the Hill Project policy and procedure documents are available. If you would like to read them contact the Up the Hill Project Coordinator



The Up the Hill Project was developed in 1999 to address the need for post-educational opportunities for adults with an intellectual disability.

The idea for the project initially came from a project developed by Bruce Uditsky in Canada where inclusive post-secondary education is available for people with disabilities. At Flinders the program was developed by John Grantley after the need was highlighted by Cassandra Gibson-Pope in her Honours Thesis.

John has been passionately involved with the project since its beginning. John has travelled to many Universities around the world including Canada and Japan and has presented at conferences about the project and post-secondary educational inclusion.

Through John's travels and research, the model for the project here at Flinders University was developed.



For all enquiries please contact:

Up the Hill Project Coordinator:  
ph: (08) 8201 3382 
email: upthehill@flinders.edu.au

Dr Fiona Rillotta
ph: (08) 8201 2108











Up the Hill Brochure