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Support for disabled students

Higher education (HE) institutions show their commitment to equality of opportunity in many ways, not least through their strategies for disabled students.

Universities and disabled students

Universities welcome enquiries and applications from disabled students, and help disabled students participate fully in university life through promoting a fair and inclusive learning and living environment. Higher education (HE) institutions cannot by law discriminate against disabled people – including prospective students and staff – on the grounds of their disability and are required to make reasonable adjustments to policies, courses, buildings and services to ensure disabled students are not disadvantaged.

Collecting data on disabled students

The most reliable way of collecting data on the number of disabled students in an institution is through using the number of students in receipt of a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). The DSA helps full- and part-time under- and postgraduate students with the extra costs they incur when attending their course as a result of their disability and are currently administered by Local Authorities and the Student Loans Company across the UK. The latest UK Performance Indicators (2014/15) showed that Wales is outperforming the rest of the UK in recruiting full-time first degree undergraduate students in receipt of a DSA. HEFCW currently bases its disability premium funding allocations on these numbers.

Funding for disabled students

HE institutions receive funding from HEFCW for the number of part-time and postgraduate taught students in receipt of the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) at their institution. 

For more information about what individual HEIs do to support disabled students, ask to read your institution’s Disability Equality Scheme and/or Action Plan.

Widening access

Provision for disabled students is integral to widening access for those who have the potential to benefit from HE. It brings a very specific range of requirements and activities but it also relates to widening access more generally, as some of the barriers to HE faced by disabled people may not derive solely from their disability. This is why we ask HE institutions to include their plans for provision for disabled students within their widening access strategies, and remind HE institutions to be aware of their responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act and the of needs of disabled people when planning particular widening access policies and schemes.

Reaching Wider

We established the Reaching Wider initiative in 2002 to raise educational aspirations and skills and widen access to HE. The Wales-wide initiative supports social inclusion and economic up-skilling. The initiative funds four regional widening access partnerships in Wales.

It engages with four main groups of people of all ages who are currently under-represented in higher education, including disabled students.

More information about widening access

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