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DEMOS Project

Online Materials for Staff Disability Awareness
[Modules] : Admissions

Notes for guidance on dealing with disabled applicants

First line of contact

It is important if you are the first line of contact for potential students that you are aware of the facilities available in the university. It is worth obtaining some information from your disability office including the disability statement [?] so that you can read up on the information and send out copies to the applicant if required. If the query gets too complicated, pass on the caller to the Disability Office.

It is also important that disabled students have a variety of means of contacting the admissions staff in your department. Alternative means to the telephone and written queries, should include a fax number, an email address and a minicom [?] number (with an operator who is capable of using it).

Be aware of the procedure

Obviously, the procedure outlined here is only one suggested method of dealing with applications from disabled people. It is important that you familiarise yourself with the procedure in your university, this is particularly true now that SENDA has come into force. If there is no formal procedure why not speak to the Disability Office to discuss ways of dealing with such applicants?

Informing others

Clearly, there are issues regarding disabled applicants that you probably won't be able to deal with on your own. It is important therefore to ensure that there is a procedure for checking forms containing information about disabled applicants and then passing on that information to the relevant contact (such as the Disability Office). Don't assume that the information about disability is being dealt with by someone else, you may find yourself with a disabled applicant enrolling on your course in September that no one has contacted but who has significant support requirements. This could cause problems for the student and the department, particularly with new legislation coming into force.

Academic decisions

When considering an application from a disabled person the primary decision should be made on whether or not the applicant has the entry criteria for the course. This is the same procedure as for all students. You must be sure not to confuse the academic ability of the applicant with their impairment.

Once this decision has been made there may be a procedure for finding out what the support needs of the applicant are. With most applicants this won't be relevant since there will be arrangements in place within your university, such as examination and assessment policies, that will ensure the applicant can successfully complete the course. The student may also be eligible for a grant [?] to pay for such support.

Some universities send out offers to all their students once the academic decision has been made and then find out about support needs. Other universities wait for the process of investigation to be completed. However, you should be aware that if this process unduly holds up the application it may be deemed unfair on the disabled applicant.

Under current legislation there are only three instances in which a university can reject a disabled applicant if they have the entry criteria necessary, these are:

In order to understand in which circumstances this might be the case it is worth reading our section on SENDA.

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