The Office for Students (OfS) has today welcomed the Disabled Students' Commission (DSC)’s challenge to universities and colleges to urgently improve support for disabled students, with only three months before the new academic year starts.
Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, and a DSC commissioner, said:
‘The pandemic has had a major impact on disabled students’ lives and their experience of higher education. The DSC’s rapid and in-depth engagement with disabled students has identified the particular challenges and barriers they face and how universities and colleges have transformed their learning, teaching and support. Many of these innovations will provide lasting benefits, provided that universities put the needs of disabled students at the heart of their planning for the next academic year.
‘We welcome the DSC’s set of challenges to the sector. We will consider how universities and colleges respond to this challenge in our monitoring of their 2019-20 access and participation plans.
‘We look forward to engaging with the DSC and the sector in taking these recommendations forward.’
The commission – which is funded by the OfS – has set a series of challenges to universities and colleges in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to ensure that disabled students have a positive and successful experience in higher education.
The seven key areas for change identified by the DSC are:
- providing disabled applicants with support and guidance in the clearing process that reflects the current circumstances
- providing funding to deliver reasonable adjustments for disabled students
- ensuring student support meets the requirements of disabled students during the pandemic
- considering disabled students when making pandemic-related adjustments to university campuses and accommodation
- facilitating disabled students’ participation in welcome and induction weeks and ongoing social activities
- ensuring that blended learning is delivered inclusively, and its benefits are considered in long-term planning
- embedding accessibility as standard across all learning platforms and technologies.
The guidance was developed by the DSC through a series of roundtables in June which looked to understand the impact of the pandemic on prospective and current disabled students. The roundtables were facilitated by DSC commissioners and attended by staff and disabled students across the sector.Find out more about the DSC