Education & Family

Disabled students 'need campus help'

students
Image caption Half of the 100 universities questioned said that not all inter-campus transport was accessible

Disabled students are calling on UK universities to do more to help them take part fully in campus life.

A study by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign's Trailblazers suggests many students are unable to access areas such as lecture theatres and libraries.

It says many institutions are failing to signpost key information such as details of accessible accommodation.

The Equality Challenge Unit said many universities were working hard to be as accessible and welcoming as possible.

The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 means it is illegal for education providers to treat disabled students less favourably because of their disability.

Accessibility

A Trailblazers' survey of 100 UK universities found only half of those questioned confirmed that all teaching rooms, study rooms and libraries were fully accessible for students with mobility difficulties.

The research found half of universities questioned said that not all inter-campus transport was accessible.

Only a quarter of the universities surveyed had considered disabled students when planning freshers' week information and only a third had a society representing disabled students in the student union.

Tanvi Vyas, manager of Trailblazers, said: "We continue to hear about how many universities are still missing the mark when it comes to helping people planning on entering higher education - and helping them to complete their time there.

"There are plenty of simple measures that universities can take. Providing inclusive freshers' guides, handy information on accessible transport and buildings and support networks can all make a huge difference to students adapting to campus life.

"We also need the government and local authorities to examine the issue of relocating care packages, which continues to be an enormous struggle for many students studying away from home."

Chris Brill, senior policy adviser for the Equality Challenge Unit, which helps universities ensure equality for staff and students, said: "Trailblazers' audit highlights a number of small changes that would make big improvements for students.

"For example, making sure information is clearly signposted on websites, and ensuring the needs of disabled students are reflected in freshers' week programmes.

"Students' unions, often a conduit between universities and students, could also be encouraged to consider how they involve disabled students in the democratic structures.

"Through this, we may see an increase in societies representing disabled students, and better involvement of disabled people in higher education."

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