Aiming at fostering inclusivity in higher educational institutions, the Institute of Information and Communication Technology (IICT) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) organized the DiversAsia International Conference on Inclusive Higher Education: Bangladesh context, on 20-21 September 2023, with good support from Jahangirnagar University (JU) and the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh (UGC). The conference was organized as a disseminating activity of the project ‘DiversAsia: Embracing diversity in Asia through the adoption of Inclusive Open Practices’. The project is led by Nottingham Trent University (NTU), UK, and funded by the Erasmus+ program under the European Union, which involves 11 universities and research institutes from 8 countries in Asia and Europe.

The DiversAsia project is a beacon of inclusive education and digital accessibility, emphasizing the importance of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and aiming to ensure equal access to higher education for students with disabilities. The project seeks to fortify the capabilities and resources of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in India and Bangladesh, providing inclusive education training and tools to the staff of the institutions, all in adherence to Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles.

The two-day conference, held at the Academic Council Bhaban, BUET, Dhaka, saw a confluence of eminent personalities, educators, and professionals discussing the challenges and importance of inclusive higher education in Bangladesh. The conference commenced with an inauguration session featuring a welcome speech by Prof. Dr. Rubaiyat Hossain Mondal, Director, IICT, BUET, and an introduction to the DiversAsia project by Guest of Honor, Prof. David Brown, NTU, UK. Other distinguished speakers include Prof. Dr. Abdul Jabbar Khan, Pro-Vice Chancellor, BUET, Prof. Dr. Biswajit Chanda, Member, University Grants Commission of Bangladesh (UGC), Dr. Dipu Moni, Honorable Education Minister, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and Prof. Dr. Satya Prasad Majumder, Vice Chancellor, BUET.

A pivotal part of the conference focused on the policies for higher education in Bangladesh. Prof. Dr. Biswajit Chanda discussed the policy and guidelines for inclusive education in Bangladesh, providing insights into the existing frameworks and their implications. Prof. Dr. Quazi Deen Mohd Khosru, former Dean, the Faculty of EEE, BUET, delved into the evolving policies for disabled students at BUET, shedding light on the advancements in inclusivity within the institution.

The conference explored various aspects of inclusive higher education, including innovations in web accessibility, principles for creating accessible online courses, and the DiversAsia Toolkits, a comprehensive guide to assess the accessibility level of OERs and MOOCs in India and Bangladesh. The toolkits are designed to promote awareness and incorporation of accessible OERs and MOOCs by HEIs in India and Bangladesh.

The conference is a monumental stride towards establishing an inclusive and diverse learning environment in HEIs in Bangladesh and India. It is anticipated to generate innovative solutions and strategies to navigate the challenges of inclusion, diversity, and cultural differences in HEIs in Asia, ensuring equal access to education and digital training materials for students with disabilities. The insights and deliberations from the conference are expected to contribute significantly to the development of inclusive and accessible higher education systems in Bangladesh.

The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Prof. Dr. Rubaiyat Hossain Mondal, Director, IICT, BUET, leaving the attendees with enriched insights and a renewed commitment to fostering diversity and inclusivity in higher education.