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DEMOS Project

Online Materials for Staff Disability Awareness
[Modules] : Disability Awareness

Support for disabled students in HE

It is important that a brief introduction to support in universities is discussed so that the context around disability is understood. We have given a brief introduction to support that is usually available in HEIs in the UK.

National Policies

Until the 1990s there was little national coordination of efforts to increase access to higher education for disabled students. However, more recently the HEFCE has funded several initiatives [External link: Open in new browser window] that sought to improve support for students. Also, the QAA have published a series of documents [External link: Open in new browser window] that are to be used in future institutional audits within HEIs and one of these focuses specifically on students with disabilities.

In September 2002 the Disability Discrimination Act was extended to cover provision for disabled students within education. Previously HEIs were only expected to produce disability statements [?]. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act places HEIs under a legal obligation to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled students and to ensure they are not discriminated against. This is a very important piece of legislation and it is thought that it will lead to much more inclusive teaching methods in higher education.

Detailed information about this topic can be found in the SENDA module.

Local Policies

Many universities have local policies or guidelines already in place for specific aspects of the university environment such as assessment and examination procedures and admissions policies.

Support for disabled students is often coordinated by a specialist unit within a HEI usually called the disability office. They can provide students with advice on claiming additional monies to help with their support needs, provide academic staff with advice on inclusive teaching and learning and arrange additional support such as dyslexia tutors.

Some universities may organise these services within learning support units. These offices take a generic approach to supporting all students who may have some difficulties with study for whatever reason.

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