London South Bank University (LSBU) welcomes the recent guidance published by the Disabled Students’ Commission (DSC) on considerations for disabled applicants in higher or degree apprenticeships. The University has a proud 130-year history of providing inclusive education and we are keen to ensure that that legacy continues to grow over the next century and beyond. We acknowledge that there is always more to do and will continue to pro-actively work towards eliminating individual, institutional and systemic inequalities that exist within the University.
There are a number of challenges related to improving diversity in many technical professions. For example, just 1.6% of Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) professionals in the UK are from Black or minority ethnic backgrounds. In response to this, the Chancerygate Foundation is offering a £180,000 bursary programme to enable more Black and minority ethnic students to study at LSBU and build careers in the property industry, supporting LSBU’s work with the Bridge Group on increasing diversity in the UK’s property industry. It is hoped that these kinds of initiatives will firstly, become more widespread across higher education, and secondly will act as a way to inspire people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds who may not have considered a career in this sector.
This lack of diversity within higher education further extends to disabled students. Research conducted in 2020 by training company Cognassist suggests that up to 35% of apprentices have a neurodiverse learning difficulty and should receive additional support from their employers, training providers and end point assessment organisations. Furthermore, around 15% of learners who drop out of their apprenticeship (almost 8,000 students in 2019/20) do so because their requirements are not being identified, meaning they do not receive sufficient support in their studies.
Considerations for disabled applicants to higher or degree apprenticeships by the DSC hopes to ensure that disabled applicants have the right tools to access the necessary support during their course, and that institutions are being as accessible and transparent as possible.
LSBU is committed to ensuring that students with any disability have equal access to all teaching and learning – and an equal opportunity to show their skills, reach their potential and excel in their chosen field. We work closely with academic teams and relevant colleagues to ensure that our students are fully included in the learning experience and can demonstrate their skills and knowledge, whilst also promoting inclusive practice across the institution.
We have a dedicated service for students with long-term disabilities, including specific learning difficulties like dyspraxia and dyslexia; physical or mobility problems; mental health conditions, autism and students who are blind or partially sighted, or are deaf or hard of hearing. Any student with a disability, including EU and International students, can register for support with Disability and Dyslexia Support and have access to LSBU’s assistive technology, equipment, and services. We also offer screenings for specific learning differences and provide funding for a formal assessment where appropriate.
In order to ensure that the guidance is implemented in a timely fashion, the Apprenticeships team at LSBU will be translating the DSC guidance into a university guide, available for all students and staff to read. Making the guide available to all will help to ensure that disabled applicants have the assurance and confidence that their requirements will be met to ensure they have the best possible experience of their higher or degree apprenticeship.
Fiona Morey is PVC FE/Compulsory Education at LSBU Group and heads the Apprenticeships team.
Advance HE has responsibility for providing secretariat support, as well as overseeing the management, coordination and dissemination of research and other DSC outcomes. Find out more about the Disabled Students’ Commission