The number of UK-domiciled entrants to full-time first degree courses with a known disability was 44,250 in 2015-16, which was an increase of 56 per cent since 2010-11. Of those with a known disability, about 18,750 (42 per cent) were in receipt of Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA).
The most common type of disability is a specific learning difference, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In 2015-16, almost half of those students with a known disability who started a higher education programme had a specific learning difference.
There have been big increases in recent years in the number of students with a known mental health condition. This increased by 220 per cent between 2010-11 and 2015-16. It is not possible to say to what extent increases in the number of students with a disability entering HE is attributable to increased rates of disclosure, but regardless it implies increased need for student support services.
The outcomes for students in receipt of DSA are broadly in line with those of students with no known disability. However, outcomes are typically worse for students who have declared a disability, but who are not in receipt of DSA.
For first degree entrants in 2014-15, the non-continuation rate for students with a declared disability, but not in receipt of DSA, was 3.2 percentage points greater than that for students without a disability and almost four percentage points greater than that for students in receipt of DSA. This gap has persisted throughout the past decade.
Similarly, disabled students not in receipt of DSA are less likely than their peers to achieve a first or upper second class degree. For most levels of prior attainment, these students are between three and five percentage points less likely to achieve this than a student with no disability, whereas the degree outcomes for students in receipt of DSA are not notably different from those with no disability.