Higher education institutions (HEIs) have responsibility for developing non-discriminatory competence standards, and designing a study programme to address these competence standards.
HEIs also have the responsibility to ensure that assessment methods address the competence standards. Adjustments to ways that competence standards are assessed may be required so that disabled students are not put at a disadvantage in demonstrating their achievement.
Advance HE has produced guidance to support HEIs meet these institutional and legal responsibilities, and promote disability equality. The guidance provides information and examples on:
- understanding key concepts in disability legislation
- the legal definition of competence standards and its relation to disability legislation
- identifying and developing non-discriminatory competence standards
- professional bodies and competence standards
- considering reasonable adjustments in the assessment of competence standards
- meeting competence standards on work placements and fieldwork
- informing students of competence standards and their assessment
Detailed subject-based case studies have been produced for the following:
Questions About Competence Standards and Reasonable Adjustments
What is a competence standard?
The Equality Act 2010 defines a competence standard as:
‘ An academic, medical or other standard applied for the purposes of determining whether or not a person has a particular level of competence or ability.’ (Sch 13, para 4(3))
Are learning outcomes competence standards?
If a standard or requirement meets the legal definition of a competence standard then it should be treated as such.
Do competence standards need to be objectively justifiable, and what does this mean?
If they are not, and could have an adverse impact on a disabled student, then they may be discriminatory. In these cases, an alternative competence standard should be developed which achieves the same purpose in a way that would not have an adverse impact on a disabled student.
Are HEIs required to make reasonable adjustments to competence standards?
Who should be involved in drawing up or reviewing competence standards?
What information can HEIs make available to students?
Advance HE ran a webinar for each subject cluster, aiming to support academics develop competence standards that are non-discriminatory and inclusive for disabled students.
The webinars covered:
- how course arrangements can potentially disadvantage disabled students, and why learning outcomes and competence standards are so important
- what steps can be taken to ensure learning outcomes and competence standards are genuine and meet related legal responsibilities
- how to think about assessment so that learning outcomes and competence standards are thoroughly tested so students are not disadvantaged
Links containing a video of each session and the slides can be found below: