DAA News Network

UK: Universities letting down disabled students

Posted 26/5-10 at 18.20

A study by a student newspaper in Oxford found that the dropout rate of disabled students had more than doubled last year. Peter Quinn, senior disability officer at Oxford, says, "Our own survey also shows that across the board, disabled students are less satisfied, and we have been running focus groups to try to find out why."

Rosie Watson's experience offers an example of why some students are less than satisfied. She was studying anthropology at Durham University. She complained that tutors were not taking into account her access needs as a Deaf person and were, in fact, publically humiliating her. Instead of addressing these issues, she was offered counseling to help her to adjust to life at university. In other words, it was her problem, not the university's.

To such cases of ignorance and blatant discrimination can be added other problems for disabled students. For example, in March 2010, the National Audit Office published a damning report on the Student Loan Company, singling out for criticism the management of the Disabled Students' Allowance. In addition, research carried out by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign last year found that 40% of university inter-campus transport was inaccessible to disabled students, while 30% of university social and leisure facilities were also not accessible to students with mobility impairment.




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