Review of Support for Disabled Students
The Principal’s review looking at current arrangements for supporting disabled students and recommending options for enhancement.
Background and context
Students raised concerns about the University's current arrangements for supporting disabled students. In response, the Principal instigated a review in May 2016 and tasked a review panel to scrutinise priority areas (accessibility and the implementation of adjustments) and recommend options for enhancement. The focus of the review was on support for disabled students, however it was determined that any issues identified which (also) relate to support for disabled staff be remitted to People Committee (or another relevant staff committee) for further action.
The panel membership was:
- Professor Jane Norman, Vice Principal (People and Culture) (Convenor);
- Gavin Douglas, Deputy Secretary (Student Experience) (Secretary & Deputy Convenor);
- Chris Brill and Stephanie Millar, Senior Policy Advisers, Equality Challenge Unit;
- Jessica Husbands, Vice President (Societies and Activities), Edinburgh Students’ Association;
- Leah Morgan, Convenor of the Disability and Mental Wellbeing (DMW) Liberation Group, EUSA;
- Professor Sandy Tudhope, Head of the School of Geosciences and Court representative.
The panel met on five occasions. Two formal review days were held with student and staff stakeholder groups from across the University (in September 2016 to consider issues relating to the accessibility of the estate and in October 2016 to consider issues relating to the implementation of adjustments). The key findings and recommendations of the review were discussed at Senate (1 February 2017), People Committee (15 February 2017), and the Principal’s Strategy Group (20 February 2017) and consultations events with students (22 February 2017) and staff (College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, 23 March 2017; College of Science and Engineering, 27 March 2017; College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science, 28 March 2017).
The recommendations of the review panel have been endorsed by Central Management Group (11 April 2017) and will be implemented for the start of the 2017-18 academic year.
The key findings and recommendations of the review are set out in the Final Report.
The University is now taking forward the recommendations, with an initial focus on the following priority areas:
- Implementation of Adjustments - the University will move to a new system of adjustments. The key element of this new approach will be a change to the status of agreed adjustments from a recommendation to a mandatory requirement to implement. The University’s academic regulatory framework has been amended to reflect this change. Disability systems are moving over to EUCLID to improve the communications of adjustments to all those who need to be aware. The Student Disability Service (SDS) will also work to build closer links and shared understanding with the Schools and Deaneries responsible for implementing adjustments. The University will review how well these new arrangements are working after the first semester.
- Accessibility of the Estate - the University is undertaking a major review of accessibility across approximately 300 buildings and 600 teaching spaces which will guide a programme of improvement works. Access guides will be available by September 2017 and launched during Welcome Week, with an online guide and mobile app available for each building. A new Accessibility Policy, and accompanying guidance, has been approved which establishes a framework to monitor, maintain and improved accessibility across the University estate through development, refurbishment and maintenance activities.
The Review Panel would like to thank everyone who contributed to the Principal’s Review of Support for Disabled Students. Your thoughts and comments were very much appreciated.