The booklet, written by the Disabled Students’ Commission (DSC), the independent and strategic group established in March this year and funded by the Office for Students (OfS), is the result of a series of four recent roundtables events held during June 2020. The roundtables explored the areas of clearing, blended learning, and transition and induction. The fourth roundtable was specifically targeted capturing the views of disabled students themselves.
The DCS Chair, Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said, “Our role as a Commission is to identify and promote approaches which work well for disabled students.
“These roundtables have flushed out important issues, and it’s particularly important to listen to what disabled students are telling us about their experience and how we can work with them so that they have a positive experience of higher education.
“There are now just three months before the new academic year starts. There is a need for urgency to ensure that the disabled student experience is addressed as campuses re-open, particularly in view of the additional challenges of social distancing and other measures required to reduce the threat of the virus.
“The sector now has a real opportunity to build on its pandemic response to date and to make a difference to the experience of disabled students and I’m confident it will.”
The booklet highlights seven key areas of challenge for institutions and policy makers to address:
- Provide disabled applicants with support and guidance that is reflective of the COVID-19 pandemic in the clearing process
- Ensure ease of access to funding for individual level reasonable adjustment
- Ensure student support meets and considers the requirements of disabled students during the pandemic
- Consider disabled students when making university campuses and accommodation COVID-19 secure
- Facilitate disabled students’ participation in welcome and induction weeks and ongoing social activities
- Ensure blended learning is delivered inclusively and its benefits are considered in long-term planning
- Embed accessibility as standard across all learning platforms and technologies.
Read the full booklet: Three months to make a difference
Longer term issues, such as the information that disabled students are required to provide to access reasonable adjustments and Disabled Students’ Allowances, during the roundtables. Over the coming months the DSC will be identifying further areas for where it can support the sector in taking action to improve disabled students experience.