Support for disabled students

The OfS has an important role in aiming to ensure that every student, whatever their background, is supported to access, succeed in, and progress from higher education. 

Supporting disabled students requires an effective response across the higher education sector and beyond, so that disabled students have the opportunity to benefit from a fulfilling higher education experience.  

The OfS is committed to supporting an inclusive experience of higher education for disabled students.  

What we're doing

In 2023 we announced the establishment of a new Disability in Higher Education Advisory Panel to provide expert advice on enhancing disabled students’ experiences in higher education.

It will consider and review how universities and colleges currently support disabled students, drawing on evidence, research and analysis from the sector to make recommendations on how to support their educational experience.

The Office for Students distributes government higher education funding to more than 330 providers in England. Providers must register with the OfS to receive this funding

Funding is provided to support student access and success for disabled students through the disabled students’ premium.

In 2023-24 academic year the OfS distributed £41 million for the disabled student premium  

Further information on recurrent funding

The major tool the OfS uses to support and challenge the higher education sector to improve equality of opportunity is access and participation plans. These are agreements that set out how universities and colleges will improve equality of opportunity for disadvantaged groups to access, succeed in and progress from higher education.

Every provider who wishes to access public funding must have an access and participation plan approved by the OfS.

Find out more about access and participation plans.

Our Equality of Opportunity Risk Register identifies disabled students as one of the characteristics of students that are most likely to indicate risks to equality of opportunity. Providers should consider if the risks identified in the risk register affect their students, and develop ways to reduce the risk, as part of their access and participation plans. 

The OfS collects student characteristics data for those studying at English higher education providers. Along with a broad range of other characteristics it includes information about protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, including disability. The student characteristic data includes data between disability reported and those with no disability reported and more detailed data broken down by type of disability reported.

Published 01 July 2022

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