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Disabled Student Commitment sign-up

18 Oct 2023 | Hannah Borkin The Disabled Student Commitment is now open for higher education providers, sector organisations, PSRBs and other relevant bodies to sign-up - "a call to action with regards to how the disabled student experience can be enhanced across the student lifecycle."


The Disabled Students’ Commission (DSC), an independent and strategic group established by the Universities Minister in July 2019 and with funding from the Office for Students, had a key responsibility to advise, inform and influence higher education providers (HEPs) to improve support for disabled students. To establish its position in the sector, the DSC worked in close consultation with sector bodies, third sector organisations, practitioners, universities and colleges for each of its three convening years and, crucially, listened carefully to the challenges highlighted by disabled students.

The Commitment

In April 2023, prior to the culmination of its funding, the DSC was in an informed and influential position to launch its keystone report: a final challenge to the sector in the form of the Disabled Student Commitment (the Commitment). It serves as the most recent, definitive and direct call to action with regards to how the disabled student experience can be enhanced across the student lifecycle.

The DSC called on universities, colleges and sector bodies to formally adopt the Commitment. As a self-regulatory tool, those signing-up are asked to work in consultation with their disabled students to look holistically at their practices and policies to evaluate how they meet the Commitment, and then to outline with a delivery plan how they intend to enhance the disabled student experience. It is not a tightly-assessed process, rather an urgent response to the structured recommendations within the Commitment and how they unfold within each individual context.

In addition to activity around the Commitment, the Office for Students is also establishing a new Disability in Higher Education Advisory Panel to provide expert advice on enhancing disabled students’ experiences in higher education.

Next steps and signing up to the Commitment

Since its launch, an Advisory Group has been established to take forward the work established by the DSC, and to ensure that the Commitment continues to meet the needs of disabled students and effectively supports those who are implementing it. The Advisory Group is chaired by a former DSC Commissioner, Professor Deborah Johnston (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic Framework, London South Bank University) and is supported by both Advance HE and the National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP). NADP will also take an active role in providing advice and guidance on the Commitment process for HEPs.

Most importantly, this newly established group and partnership has been the catalyst to putting in place a formalised sign-up process to the Commitment, which we are pleased to announce today. If you are interested in signing up, we are requesting a signed email from your Vice-Chancellor or equivalent member of staff written to, clearly outlining the following:

  • The name of your higher education provider or relevant organisation
  • A named key contact for your work around the Commitment moving forward
  • A brief statement on where you are currently in the Commitment process, either (i) intending to work towards the principles in the Commitment, or (ii) have published a delivery plan in consultation with your disabled students.

If you fall into the latter category and have published your delivery plan on your website, we will provide you with a Disabled Student Commitment logo to be displayed in the appropriate places, with disabled students and applicants encouraged to look for this. We can also provide you with a template statement summarising your intention to sign up, if this is required.

A list of the HEPs and relevant organisations working towards the Commitment are displayed on Advance HE’s website here.

We are greatly encouraged by the initial response to the Commitment, and look forward to collaborative, long-term momentum from the sector to create a more inclusive environment for disabled students.

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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