Universal Design for Learning in Tertiary Education: A Scoping Review and Recommendations for Implementation in Australia

Noor Jwad, Mary-Ann O'Donovan, Erin Leif, Elizabeth Knight, Elicia Ford, Jessica Buhne

Research output: Book/ReportOther ReportResearch


Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is defined as a framework to improve and optimise teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. Learner diversity can comprise physical, visual, hearing, sensory, attention, and communication barriers. UDL recognises there is no 'average' learner and that learners come with a wide variety of prior experiences, abilities, preferences and needs, and enables curricula to be written flexibly so they are accessible to the highest number of learners, addressing the variance in the student population. At the same time, UDL does not negate the need to make extra accommodations for some learners. Initial scoping of the literature and the policies and resources of Australian tertiary education institutions has identified that UDL principles are not yet fully or consistently embedded in the development of tertiary education coursework or curriculum in Australia.

The purpose of this scoping review is threefold. The first purpose was to identify current definitions and principles of UDL. The second purpose was to identify and describe the ways in which the principles of UDL are used in tertiary education, drawing on international research and case examples. The third purpose was to identify the ways in which UDL is enacted in the tertiary education sectors in Australia, drawing on publicly available policies and online resources from Australian tertiary education institutions. This Literature Review and Environmental Scan has been used by the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) and the National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) Program to inform the development of Australia's first free online UDL training for tertiary educators.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLaunceston Tasmania
PublisherAustralian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training
Number of pages43
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Diversity
  • Learning process
  • Access to education and training
  • Equal opportunity
  • Educational practice
  • Curriculum development
  • Institutional role
  • Literature review
  • Recommendations

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