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Government calls on universities to improve support for students with disabilities

The government has called for universities to increase the number of students with disabilities going into higher education, and to provide greater support to help them succeed.

The government has called for universities to increase the number of students with disabilities going into higher education, and to provide greater support to help them succeed.

More students with disabilities are attending university than ever before, thanks in no small part to the support of the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) and organisations like YorLinc, which make it easier for disabled students to get the support they require.

94,120 new students with a disability started university in England in the 2017/18 academic year, representing 13% of the intake. However, this is still lower than the percentage of working-age adults with a disability.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: “I am encouraged by the figures out today showing record numbers of students with a disability going to university – but there is more work to be done.

“Working with key stakeholders and disabled students, I believe that we can do more to break down access and participation barriers in higher education by focusing on spreading good practice and listening to disabled students about their needs.

“We have a collective responsibility to make that happen and I am calling on universities to consider the barriers that disabled students experience and the support on offer to them so we can help them succeed in higher education.”

According to research from the Department for Education, students in receipt of the DSA are more likely to continue their course (92%) than those not receiving the allowance, or students without a disability (91%).

More than half of students who receive the DSA (59%) say that they would not feel confident of passing their course without the financial support it provides. 69% of DSA recipients say that they felt confident of completing their course, and 68% are confident of passing.

“The National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP) welcome the findings from this research, which evidences the current experience of disabled students’ in accessing DSA,” said an NADP spokesperson.

“DSA continues to provide valued support to disabled students, and ensuring students have timely awareness of the DSA and the application process in advance of starting university remains a vital and clear ongoing priority for the sector.

“Effective DSA support along with ongoing developments in inclusive and accessible teaching and learning will enable future generations of disabled people to participate successfully in higher education.”

Higher education providers planned to spend £860m on improving access and opportunities for students from under-represented groups - including students with disabilities - in 2018/19.

21st January, 2019