Swansea University is committed to providing an inclusive environment which enables all students to achieve their highest potential. The University has a wide range of provision to support disabled students including specialist support, support through academic departments and schools, and appropriate policies and procedures.
The policy is supported by the procedures in this document and a number of associated Codes of Practice and operational procedures which are either appended to, or referenced by, this policy including:
- Student Assessment and Progress academic regulations
- Code of Practice for Learning, Teaching and Assessment
- Assessment and Feedback Policy
- Reasonable Adjustments for Students
The University has clearly set out its commitment to ensuring that teaching and learning is fully inclusive and accessible to all students in its Learning and Teaching Strategy (2019 – 2024). This policy falls directly within the remit and rationale of Objective 1 of this strategy: “Students will benefit from personalised, flexible and inclusive learning with the support of learning communities.”
This policy sets out how the University meets its obligations under the Equality Act. It identifies the University’s approach to supporting disabled students and formalises areas of responsibility. The Equality Act 2010 requires staff to take positive steps, known as Reasonable Adjustment(s), to ensure that disabled students can fully participate in their education. Reasonable Adjustments are actions taken to remove barriers faced by students with a disability so that they may participate in education on the same basis as students without disability.
The purpose of this policy is to ensure that that disabled students are not placed at a substantial disadvantage during teaching and assessment in comparison to students who are not disabled. The University is required to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage such as removing barriers to learning and objective assessment. A substantial disadvantage is defined by the Equality Act as one that is more than “minor or trivial”.
- Outlines the legal requirement for reasonable adjustments in learning and assessment at Swansea University.
- Details the formal processes and procedures involved in making reasonable adjustments at Swansea University.
- Explains the roles and responsibilities of those involved in making reasonable adjustments at Swansea University.
This policy addresses all aspects of support for disabled applicants and students at Swansea University. It applies to all students (at all levels of study, including Postgraduate Research) in all modes of study at Swansea University in all locations of study leading to University credits or awards, including students studying under partnership arrangements.
The procedures set out in this document apply to all Swansea University students.
The policy also includes those students who become disabled or become aware of their disability during their course of study; however, reasonable adjustments are not normally applied retrospectively.
4. Definition of Terms
Reasonable adjustments - service providers and people exercising public functions must anticipate the needs of disabled people and make appropriate reasonable adjustments. (Equality Act 2010 - Explanatory Notes (legislation.gov.uk) including provisions to reduce the impact of barriers commonly experienced by disabled students. This includes established policies and practices such as the provision of additional time in examinations and physical adjustments such as the provision of accessible accommodation and blue badge parking spaces.
Disabled student - all students who have a disability as defined by the Equality Act (see Appendix A). This may include, but is not limited to, students with mental health conditions, specific learning difficulties, long term health conditions, mobility impairments, visual impairments, hearing impairments and students on the autistic spectrum.
Equality Act - Under the Equality Act 2010, institutions have a duty to anticipate and make reasonable adjustments for disabled people to ensure they are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people. Institutions also have a duty to promote equality between disabled and non-disabled people known as the general duty. The Equality Act 2010 requires all Higher Education providers not to discriminate against disabled students. For this policy we will use the definition of disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010 in which:
“A person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’ (section 6 of Act).”
The Act imposes a responsibility on Universities to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled students in relation to a provision, criterion or practice such as teaching and assessment methods.
Inclusive approaches - approaches that consider the needs of disabled students as part of the wider student body. Inclusive approaches that meet the needs of disabled students are also likely to meet the needs of other student groups. For example, the use of lecture capture may have benefits also for international students.
5. Roles and Responsibilities
This section outlines the roles and responsibilities of key areas of the University. It does not seek to provide operational detail about these responsibilities.
a) Maintain a central Disability Office and Wellbeing Service within Student Services to liaise with Faculties on behalf of students.
b) Ensure that the University’s legal obligation under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments is met.
c) Maintain confidentiality and ensure sensitive information is shared in an appropriate need to know manner.
d) Provide a community of practice for staff supporting students with disabilities, learning differences, hidden illnesses, and long-term medical conditions.
e) Ensure that an appropriate monitoring and recording system is available for Faculties, the Disability Office, and Wellbeing Service.
The Executive Dean and Head of Operations of each Faculty will ensure that:
a) The Administrative Disability and Academic Coordinator roles within each Faculty are undertaken by appropriate members of staff; The staff resource allocated to support students with disabilities is proportionate to the number of students with disabilities and the complexity of individual needs.
b) There is a clear first point of contact for advice and support in the Faculty for students with a disability at Faculty and/or departmental level (administrative/academic).
c) In the absence of the Academic Disability Coordinator, Programme Directors will respond to queries relating to academic adjustments for students with disabilities.
d) The Administrative and Academic Disability Coordinators will also participate and be part of the community of practice to share information and good practice and be briefed about current national and university initiatives.
e) The Administrative and Academic Disability Coordinators are expected to attend relevant CPD sessions.
Academic Disability Coordinators are academic members of staff responsible for ensuring that relevant academic and administrative staff are aware of the student’s support needs and for coordinating Faculty-based support. They are also responsible for liaising with the Disability Office as required about the appropriateness of individual reasonable adjustments. (See Appendix F for the DC’s Job Description.)
Administrative Disability Coordinators are professional services members of staff responsible for providing administrative support to the Academic Disability Coordinator through the delegation of tasks. Overall responsibility for the function remains with the Academic Disability Coordinator. (Link to Code of Practice: Guidance on Reasonable Adjustments.)
All Teaching Staff are responsible for implementing relevant reasonable adjustments detailed in the student’s proforma. Module Coordinators are responsible for checking which students on the module require reasonable adjustments and ensuring that staff teaching on the module are aware of these students’ requirements. (This information is available via reports on the Online Faculty/School Disability Management System.)
Heads of Academic Units are responsible for ensuring that an Academic Disability Coordinators available within the department and for the health and safety of disabled students. This includes ensuring that a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan is provided to any disabled student who requires one. Heads of Academic Departments are also responsible for ensuring that anticipatory approaches are agreed on an annual basis and that inclusive approaches and reasonable adjustments are in place for assessments organised within the department, including in-class tests.
Programme Directors are responsible for reviewing the curriculum of their programmes and identifying appropriate inclusive approaches. Additionally, they are responsible for ensuring that teaching and learning materials and practices within their department are accessible and meet the identified needs of disabled students. Finally, they are responsible for ensuring that their staff are aware of this policy.
The Director of Estates is responsible for ensuring that the University campus, including all University buildings, is physically accessible and that accessibility equipment and ergonomic furniture is managed effectively. They are also responsible for ensuring that campus services, such as parking and catering, are accessible.
Senior Leadership Team (SLT) are responsible for the University’s strategy with regards to disabled students, ensuring compliance with the Equality Act and regulating the associated resources to fund support for disabled students.
a) Disclose a disability and/or medical condition as early as possible.
b) Register with the appropriate service and to ensure appropriate support is in place as early as possible in the academic year.
c) Provide the Disability Office/Wellbeing Service with up-to-date contact details, keep appointments, arrive on time, and let services know as early as possible if unable to attend.
d) Provide up-to-date medical evidence and/or educational psychologist assessment and/or assessment of need as and when required.
e) Inform the Disability Office/Wellbeing Service of any changes to circumstances that may affect the level of support required.
f) Access and engage with the recommended support.
g) Take responsibility for managing studies once suitable support has been put in place.
h) Provide feedback on experiences to improve service and practices. (Further information available on Student Charter - Swansea University.)
i) Meet with the Examination Office regarding any in-person examinations.
j) Treat service staff with respect in line with University regulations and codes of conduct.
6. Identifying and Implementing Reasonable Adjustments
The Disability Office and Wellbeing Service provide a set of recommended Reasonable Adjustments to teaching, learning and assessment for each student based on independent assessment and medical or other relevant evidence. These needs are documented in the controlled access list of current students with disabilities that is managed and maintained by Administrative Disability Coordinators and Academic Disability Coordinators for each Faculty. A list of current Disability Coordinators is maintained by the Disability Office.
All Reasonable Adjustments are determined on a case-by-case basis, based on evidence, and judged against UK norms.
7. Competence Standards and Reasonable Adjustment
Competence standards are academic, medical, or other standards which are required for the programme and are set by external accrediting bodies which approve any reasonable adjustments to competence standards.