Abigail MeadowOctober 17th
2019

Charities and unions have warned that disabled students are dropping out of University due to 'inadequate' support.

Universities need to give more support to students with disabilities in order to prevent higher drop-out rates and fewer employment opportunities, said the Office for Students (OfS), University regulator. 

Universities are currently relying on individuals to disclose their disability and request adjustments, rather than providing all the provision they need, the OfS has warned in a new report.

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Of the full-time undergraduates who declared a disability, those with mental health conditions had the lowest continuation rate at 86.8%, compared to non-disabled students at a continuation rate of 90.3%.

Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the OfS said: “This is concerning. The impact of having a degree on the job gap clearly shows what a huge difference they are making to disabled students’ chances in life.

"But these achievements are still too often reliant on an individual student being able to navigate the barriers in their way."

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“It is time for universities to ensure genuinely equal opportunities for disabled students. This means not only meeting their legal duties to individual students, but learning from each other to create learning environments in which all students can thrive."

Universities minister Chris Skidmore said: “We know that higher education has the power to transform lives and it’s fantastic to see the difference it can make to those with disabilities. However, we know that gaps still remain in attainment and career opportunities, and we need to level the playing field.”

He added: “I want to see universities stepping up to the challenge to improve support for students from all backgrounds, including disabled students, so everyone can flourish in higher education and have the best possible chance of a successful career.”

Disabled Students Dropping Out University

Piers Wilkinson, disabled students’ officer at the National Union of Students, said: “The current provision isn’t just inadequate, it is intentionally not given. 

"When it comes to disabled students, we are always measured up against a price tag, and once we become more expensive than profitable, we are forced to go into debt or seek charity to access our basic right to education.” 

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