Our funding for disabled students is £40 million for 2016-17, an increase of £20 million compared with 2015-16. This increase is to support institutions to meet the rapid rise in the number of students reporting mental health problems and to transition towards an inclusive social model of support for disabled students.
The future of support for disabled students
Previous research has shown that the largest groups of impaired students to which higher education institutions cater were students with dyslexia. The group least likely to feel their needs have been met sufficiently were students with mental health problems.
In light of these findings and the Government’s proposed changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), we carried out a review in 2014-15.
This focused on support for students with specific learning differences and students with mental health problems or intensive support needs.
The review has shown that some of the biggest challenges facing institutions are:
- increasing demand for services
- proposed changes to the way in which funding is delivered to support disabled students
- moving to a social model of support
- working with external agencies
- increased pressure on resources.
A ‘social model’
The review shows clearly that institutions want to move towards the ‘social’ model of disability and a more inclusive approach.
According to this model the barriers to participation and success for disabled students come not from the student but from society and its institutions, systems and processes.
Part of the solution is, therefore, more inclusive curricula, learning and teaching environments, and restructured support.
Student mental health and wellbeing
We recently held two conferences regarding student mental health and wellbeing.
The conferences provided an opportunity for colleagues from across the higher education and mental health sectors to come together and discuss how higher education providers can strategically respond to the growing demand from students for services and provision.
The conference built on the work undertaken for the HEFCE review of provision and support for disabled students and the subsequent publication of the independent research report ‘Understanding provision for students with mental health problems and intensive support needs’.
Chris Millward, HEFCE
Ruth Caleb, Brunel University London
John McClean and Erica Thompson, Hackney Community College
Susan Ward, Consultant and trainer
John de Pury, Universities UK
Maddy Kirkman and Shelly Asquith, NUS
Find out more
We have published the two reports from the review. We have also analysed data on the provision available in 2012-13 for all students at English institutions registered on higher education courses.
Our interactive visualisation allow users to explore the data by the disclosed disability status of students, the location where courses were taught, the subject areas they were in and the level of study.