Disabled Students' Commission

The Disabled Students' Commission (DSC) was an independent group of experts committed to bringing about positive change for disabled students.

It was tasked to:

  • advise, inform and challenge the English higher education sector to improve models of support for disabled students
  • identify and promote effective practice that helps students with disabilities have a positive and successful experience at university. 

The DSC was funded by the OfS for three years between January 2020 and January 2023.

During the first two years the DSC provided guidance to the sector on how to ensure students with a disability can participate fully in higher education, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. This included the publications: ‘Three months to make a difference’ and ‘Considerations for disabled students when applying to university in light of Covid-19’.

In its final year the DSC focused on communicating the needs and interests of disabled students to the higher education sector and its policy makers post-pandemic.

Its primary intervention has been the development of the ‘Disabled Student Commitment’ which is a call to the sector and its bodies to make the step change that is required to create a more inclusive higher education environment for all. The Commitment was launched in April 2023.

Group membership

The members of the Disabled Students' Commission were:

John Blake Director for Fair Access and Participation, Office for Students (OfS representative)
Sean Cullen Former Disability Officer, Brunel University (student voice commissioner)
Susan Daniels Chief Executive Officer, National Deaf Children’s Society (general commissioner)
Professor Sarah Greer Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, University of Worcester (general commissioner)
Patrick Johnson Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, The University of Law (general commissioner)
Professor Deborah Johnston Pro-Director (Learning and Teaching) and Professor in Development Economics, SOAS University of London (general commissioner) 
Professor Geoff Layer Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton (Chair of the Disabled Students' Commission)
Piers Wilkinson Higher Education Policy and Campaigns Lead, Diversity and Ability (student voice commissioner)

Dr Sam Parrett, Chief Executive Officer and Group Principal of London South East Colleges, was appointed as a further education adviser to the commission.

Group secretariat

Advance HE managed the Disabled Students' Commission.

Further information on the DSC’s work and commissioners can be found on Advance HE's website.

Last updated 29 June 2023

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