A consultation launched today by the Disabled Students’ Commission aims to make sure the Disabled Student Commitment is guided by evidence and sets out a vital agenda to ensure that disabled students in UK higher education get a better deal.
Principles within the Commitment build on the good practice delivered by the higher education sector during the Covid-19 pandemic and call on HE providers and other organisations to make ongoing and sustained positive progress instead of going backwards.
Respondents to the survey are invited to comment on the principles which focus on creating an inclusive environment across four key areas of the higher education journey:
- Information, advice and guidance on accessing higher education: improving the individual experience of disabled students so that they fully understand the nature of the study, the support available and the challenges and opportunities that exist before commencing their studies.
- Joining the higher education community: ensuring disabled students’ introduction to higher education is fully supported so that they can participate confidently in all activities.
- On-course delivery: creating a culture in which all students can excel, which includes meeting disabled students’ requirements so that they can fully engage with their course and achieve positive outcomes.
- Moving on from studying in higher education: creating clear guidance for disabled students moving into employment, as this is where the biggest gap in outcomes exists.
Professor Geoff Layer, Chair of the Disabled Students Commission, said, “Our higher education sector must be a place where disabled students have the same chance of success. That does not mean treating all students in the same way, instead it is a meaningful commitment to place inclusivity at the core and shape our services, systems and curriculum to support them.”
Mary Curnock Cook CBE, former Chief Executive of UCAS and current Chair of the UPP Foundation Student Futures Commission, said, “I welcome the Commitment because it puts disabled students’ needs first on the to-do list rather than last. Focusing on the majority first just delays support for those who need it most, and often urgently, in order to benefit from higher education.”
Professor Edward Peck, Student Support Champion and Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, said, “I want to thank the Disabled Students’ Commission for their work developing this Commitment. As they begin formal consultation on this document, I urge colleagues across the sector to move forward with this agenda and consider how best to adopt the measures outlined within it.
“Higher education providers must strive for inclusive environments where disabled students are supported to succeed and have equal opportunities to thrive. As the Student Support Champion, I look forward to working with the Commission in the coming months to ensure this remains a priority for the sector.”