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Briefing note published on supporting disabled students during the pandemic

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@officestudents (OfS) has today published a briefing note looking at the range of different approaches that universities and colleges are taking to support disabled students during the pandemic.

Many disabled students already face challenges during their time in higher education that students without a known disability do not. In an Insight brief on disabled students published last year, the OfS highlighted that disabled students are less likely to continue their degrees, graduate with a good degree, and progress onto a highly skilled job or further study.

As the briefing note shows, there is a risk that the pandemic may be exacerbating these challenges and creating new issues, particularly if students are unsure of how to access study support or financial aid. It is also particularly important that disabled prospective students can continue to access advice and guidance to help them to make informed decisions about their higher education options.

The briefing note explores concerns raised by disabled students themselves, and examines how universities and colleges have taken a number of practical steps to adapt their services, including:

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  • holding online events and Q&A sessions for disabled applicants
  • providing regular British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter support and transcribing lectures
  • supplying equipment and software to ensure inclusive assessment methods
  • encouraging employers to offer a guaranteed interview to disabled graduates who meet the essential criteria.

The note also discusses the potential for the current expansion of remote learning and inclusive assessment processes to benefit disabled students if incorporated into longer-term teaching approaches.

Today’s briefing note is the eighth in a series designed to share the steps universities and colleges have taken to support students during the pandemic. The series does not constitute regulatory advice but focuses on sharing ideas and responses to challenges faced by universities and colleges during the pandemic.

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