The Student Room Group

Are disability services in UK universities generally good?

Do you think university staff in the UK tend to be incredulous of disability claims by students, e.g. worried about students claiming disabilities to get undeserved concessions on coursework while ignoring the fact that several disabilities can take years to / can never be diagnosed due to a myriad of factors?

I even heard some folks saying that a significant proportion of professors are extremely prejudiced against students with disabilities while pretending as inclusive.

What do you think about this?
(edited 11 months ago)
Extremely variable how well supported students are. Some unis have excellent support processes in place, others are very bad at following them, some don't do more than just make vague gestures towards their obligations under the equality act.

Generally in my experience the issues are not with academics who have no issues with students who have reasonable adjustments due to a disability (although note usually you do need to have a formal diagnosis in order to be able to apply for Disabled Student's Allowance and have a needs assessment at your uni in my experience?). In fact they are often very keen to support such students from what I have seen.

The challenges, from my experience, lie within the accessibility departments at the universities themselves. I have had the experience where a uni provided very little support to me until after I had a formal diagnosis and was in receipt of disabled student's allowance (hence my comment about this above), and then once I had that gave me a needs assessment, discussed all kinds of wonderful things to help support me, then didn't put in place 90% of those and left me to just kind of fend for myself and try and keep chasing them up for the stuff. Equally though I've been at a uni where I've gone to them, had my needs assessment, and they put everything in place for me, were very quick to followup on any queries or concerns I had, and were active in reaching out to me to make sure that my reasonable adjustments were in place, were helping, if I needed anything changing with them etc.

So yeah, really variable but the issues aren't where you think they are, in my experience. Note though in basically all cases I've experienced, it's up to the student to make the first moves to apply to DSA from SFE, reach out to the relevant team within the uni, and get the process started. If you don't then they don't generally reach out to you (even if you are in receipt of DSA) in my experience.
(edited 11 months ago)
As has been said above, there's a difference between the services unis provide (which comes from the disability departments/services, as per your title) and how academics feel about disabled students. It also very much depends on the staff and management who are in place at the time you're there. I've been at my current uni for nearly 9 years, and have seen huge changes to the disability staff who are leading the disability services (and subsequently, how students are treated/what the general policies are) in that time.

I used to have nothing bad to say about my uni's disability service - now it's quite the opposite! :colonhash: But that's coloured by the fact I had a disability discrimination case against my uni. It dragged on for two years and had to be sorted out by the ombudsman in the end, resulting in a four-figure sum payout so that my uni could stop me taking them to court :eek:

It's worth noting that at my Masters uni, they did chase me for several months (very nicely/kindly) about applying for DSA, even though I kept refusing. So some unis are willing to be more proactive/helpful than others. Again, that was due to the staff who were there at the time, I dunno if they're still in place :iiam:
(edited 11 months ago)
Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd
As has been said above, there's a difference between the services unis provide (which comes from the disability departments/services, as per your title) and how academics feel about disabled students. It also very much depends on the staff and management who are in place at the time you're there. I've been at my current uni for nearly 9 years, and have seen huge changes to the disability staff who are leading the disability services (and subsequently, how students are treated/what the general policies are) in that time.

I used to have nothing bad to say about my uni's disability service - now it's quite the opposite! :colonhash: But that's coloured by the fact I had a disability discrimination case against my uni. It dragged on for two years and had to be sorted out by the ombudsman in the end, resulting in a four-figure sum payout so that my uni could stop me taking them to court :eek:

It's worth noting that at my Masters uni, they did chase me for several months (very nicely/kindly) about applying for DSA, even though I kept refusing. So some unis are willing to be more proactive/helpful than others. Again, that was due to the staff who were there at the time, I dunno if they're still in place :iiam:


Sorry to hear that!
Original post by ABBAForever2015
Sorry to hear that!


Thanks :redface:
Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd
Thanks :redface:


You are welcome.
Anyone else would like to share their views?
Original post by ABBAForever2015
Do you think university staff in the UK tend to be incredulous of disability claims by students, e.g. worried about students claiming disabilities to get undeserved concessions on coursework while ignoring the fact that several disabilities can take years to / can never be diagnosed due to a myriad of factors?

I even heard some folks saying that a significant proportion of professors are extremely prejudiced against students with disabilities while pretending as inclusive.

What do you think about this?


I had a positive experience with the Open Uni. I never felt prejudiced, they were considerate of special circumstances I submitted and the tutors always accepted extensions when I requested them (I kept these to a minimum and never tried to get an extension on those assignments that didn't allow extensions). The disability assessors I met were kind and supportive, they essentially were chucking stuff at me to support me. :lol:

I'm not denying though that there are very much likely professors/lecturers/staff out there who aren't as supportive as they could be, but that's why we have disability/equality laws to protect us!

I'm not sure I've heard of disabilities that can never be diagnosed though. :confused: I don't think students can expect massive amounts of disability support when they haven't been diagnosed with the condition. As artful_lounger mentioned, it's only really until you get DSA that the uni helps out the most.
Original post by ABBAForever2015
Do you think university staff in the UK tend to be incredulous of disability claims by students, e.g. worried about students claiming disabilities to get undeserved concessions on coursework while ignoring the fact that several disabilities can take years to / can never be diagnosed due to a myriad of factors?

I even heard some folks saying that a significant proportion of professors are extremely prejudiced against students with disabilities while pretending as inclusive.

What do you think about this?

I think @artful_lounger answered this well, but I wanted to give my take on this, using my experience. For context I am undiagnosed but have had a SpLD assessment that says I have signs of ADHD. I am at a uni where they chucked loads of information and forms at me, but didn't assist me in processing it or filling them out, which was and still is a nightmare for my AuADHD brain. So, as well as providing little support for me (undiagnosed), they probably indirectly discriminated by giving me information in this way after I had told them of my self-identifications. However, aside from legal costs, I doubt it is worth trying to prove this as I have almost no hard evidence, which the cynical part of me says was probably their intention.

So, yes, I would say that university staff in the form of disability advisors can be incredulous of disability claims by students, and can be unaware of the immense difficulty that diagnosis for people currently aged 18-20 and older holds. Professors and teachers, however, should only care about your learning and not funding/policy issues, and in my experience this has proved true. Disclosing informally my disabilities to them has been far more helpful.
Original post by -Eirlys-
I had a positive experience with the Open Uni. I never felt prejudiced, they were considerate of special circumstances I submitted and the tutors always accepted extensions when I requested them (I kept these to a minimum and never tried to get an extension on those assignments that didn't allow extensions). The disability assessors I met were kind and supportive, they essentially were chucking stuff at me to support me. :lol:

I'm not denying though that there are very much likely professors/lecturers/staff out there who aren't as supportive as they could be, but that's why we have disability/equality laws to protect us!

I'm not sure I've heard of disabilities that can never be diagnosed though. :confused: I don't think students can expect massive amounts of disability support when they haven't been diagnosed with the condition. As artful_lounger mentioned, it's only really until you get DSA that the uni helps out the most.

Bit of a late reply but I second this about the OU - I had very good support from them which far outstripped that I have had at any brick uni up to then! Was really impressed and very encouraged by that honestly, made a big difference and really helped me get back into HE after the challenges I had in my first "stint" :smile:

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