The Disabled Student Experience


6 principles for the Disabled Student Experience

Disabled students should be able to access their education on equal terms with their non-disabled peers. The six principles below constitute a framework for what this looks like in practice. 

For each of these principles, Disabled Students UK has set a number of goals for the disabled student experience in 2033. The goals take into consideration both the current state of the sector and that there are best practice examples enabling the sector to reach the goals within 10 years. The goals have been created in consultation with disability staff as well as the wider disabled student community.

Below we have positioned these goals alongside the current experience of disabled students. To navigate this section, please use the headings below.

Principle 1: Universal Design

Disabled Students should be greeted by an environment, practices and policies that have been designed with accessibility in mind.

Physical and Sensory Environment

By 2033 90% of students should know of at least one workspace on campus that is completely accessible to them

Currently 76% know of a workspace on campus which is completely accessible to them

Bar chart that reads “Know of an accessible workspace”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 76%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 90%

Assessment

By 2033 80% of students should have been given the option of an alternative form of assessment for at least one of their assessments

Currently 25% have been given the option of an alternative form of assessment for at least one of their assessments

Bar chart that reads “Have been given the option of an alternative form of assessment”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 25%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 80%

Digital Environment

By 2033 90% of students should find that the vast majority of recorded lectures have useful captions*

Currently 37% report that the vast majority of recorded lectures have useful captions*

Bar chart that reads “Report that 80% of their recorded lectures have useful captions”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 37%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 90%

Policy

By 2033 60% of students should know that disability related absences do not count toward attendance averages

Currently 14% are aware that disability related absences ought not to count toward attendance averages

Bar chart that reads “Believe that disability related absences do not count toward their attendance average”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 14%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 60%

Principle 2: An Inclusive Culture

Disabled students should experience a positive culture at their institution, which promotes inclusion, belonging and a healthy approach to productivity.

Inclusion

By 2033 fewer than 5% of students should have been made to feel unwelcome at their university by staff members due to their disability

Currently 28% have been made to feel unwelcome at the university by staff members due to their disability

Bar chart that reads “Have been made to feel unwelcome”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 28%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 5%

Implementation of Support

By 2033 fewer than 20% of students should have had a staff member treat their agreed adjustments as mere suggestions

Currently 49% have had a staff member treat the adjustments agreed for them as mere suggestions

Bar chart that reads “Have had agreed adjustments treated as suggestions”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 49%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 20%

Important Relationships

By 2033 75% of research students should find their supervisor supportive and flexible when it comes to their disability and access needs

Currently 56% of research students find their personal tutor or supervisor supportive and flexible when it comes to their disability and access needs

Bar chart that reads “Supervisor supportive and flexible regarding disability”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 56%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 75%

Asking for Support

By 2033 fewer than 10% of students should state that they’ve held back from raising access issues because they have been afraid they will be treated worse or it will affect their academic prospects

Currently 29% have held back from raising an access issue because they were afraid they would be treated worse or it will affect their academic prospects

Bar chart that reads “Have held back from raising access issues for fear of being treated worse”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 29%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 10%

Principle 3: A barrier-free path to support

Disabled students should not have to go through a process which puts them at a disadvantage in order to receive individualised adjustments.

Evidencing

By 2033 fewer than 15% of students should feel that the evidencing process is burdensome

Currently 31% feel that the evidencing process is burdensome

Bar chart that reads “Feel that the evidencing process is burdensome”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 31%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 15%

Timeline

By 2033 95% of students who sent in evidence of their disability more than 2 months before starting should have a support plan in place by the time their degree starts

Currently 60% of those who send in evidence more than 2 months before starting have a support plan in place by the time they start

Bar chart that reads “Have a support plan by start of degree if they sent in evidence early”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 60%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 95%

Repeated Disclosure

By 2033 fewer than a third of students should feel that they often have to explain the same thing about their disability or access needs several times to different staff members

Currently 73% report often having to explain the same thing about their disability or access needs several times to different staff members

Bar chart that reads “Often have to explain their disability to different staff members”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 73%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 33%

Follow up

By 2033 fewer than 20% of students should go without adjustments that have been agreed for them because it takes too much time and  energy to ensure they are put in place

Currently 70% go without adjustments that have been agreed for them because it takes too much time and energy to ensure they are put in place

Bar chart that reads “Sometimes go without adjustments because they take too long to chase”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 70%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 20%

Principle 4: Sufficient Adjustments

Disabled students should receive all reasonable adjustments needed to enable them to access their degree on equal terms with their non-disabled peers.

Result

By 2033 75% of students should have all the support and adjustments they need to access their degree on equal terms with their non-disabled peers

Currently 35% have all the support and adjustments they need to access their degree on equal terms with their non-disabled peers

Bar chart that reads “Have the support and adjustments they need”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 35%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 75%

Adjustments Agreed

By 2033 fewer than 25% of students who have asked for adjustments should have been refused an adjustment which would make their experience more equal to that of a non-disabled student

Currently 55% have been refused an adjustment which would make their experience more equal to that of a non-disabled student

Bar chart that reads “Have been refused an adjustment”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 55%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 25%

Adjustments Implemented

By 2033 80% of students should have all the agreed adjustments provided

Currently 36% have had all agreed adjustments provided

Bar chart that reads “Have had all the agreed adjustments provided”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 36%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 80%

Adjustments Effective

By 2033 85% of students should find the majority of adjustments effective in removing the disadvantage they are experiencing

Currently 64% find most provided adjustments effective in removing the disadvantage they are experiencing

Bar chart that reads “Find most of the provided adjustments effective”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 64%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 85%

Principle 5: Somewhere to Turn

Disabled students should have a person or place to go to within their institution to effectively resolve accessibility issues.

Somewhere to Turn

By 2033 75% of students should feel that there is a system or person they can turn to within the institution who would be able to effectively address the access barriers they may face

Currently 59% feel there is a system or person they could turn to within the institution who would be able to effectively address the access barriers they may face

Bar chart that reads “Have somewhere to turn for help removing access barriers”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 59%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 75%

Responsibility

By 2033 fewer than 15% of students should feel pushed from person to person with no one taking responsibility for their access needs

Currently 40% have felt pushed from person to person because it was unclear who is responsible for their access

Bar chart that reads “Feel pushed from person to person”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 40%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 15%

Resolution

By 2033 fewer than 15% of students that have raised access issues should report that none of those issues were resolved

Currently 47% of those who have raised access issues report that none of the issues they raised were resolved

Bar chart that reads “Had none of the issues they raised resolved”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 47%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 15%

Escalation

By 2033 70% of students should know how they could appeal an access decision that puts them at a disadvantage

Currently 24% know how they could appeal an access decision that they feel puts them at a disadvantage

Bar chart that reads “Know how to appeal an access decision”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 24%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 70%

Principle 6: Equal Opportunities

Disabled students should be provided with the same non-academic opportunities from their institution as their non disabled peers.

Health Opportunities

By 2033 fewer than 40% of students should feel that their physical or mental health has suffered from their degree

Currently 83% report that their physical or mental health has suffered from their degree

Bar chart that reads “Physical or mental health suffered from degree”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 83%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 40%

Financial Opportunities

By 2033 80% of students should feel that they have received the same value for money as their non-disabled peers

Currently 53% feel that they have received the same value for money as their non-disabled peers

Bar chart that reads “Feel they get same value for money as non-disabled students”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 53%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 80%

Social Opportunities

By 2033 65% of students should feel part of a community at their institution

Currently 42% feel part of a community at their institution

Bar chart that reads “Feel part of a community”. An orange bar representing the 2023 percentage stands at 42%. A dark green bar representing the 2033 goal stands at 65%
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