RECORD numbers of disabled students are heading for Huddersfield University – and achieving their full potential when they get there.
Disabled students make up around 7% of Huddersfield students.
But at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year they achieved 12% of first class and upper-second class degrees.
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Professor Tim Thornton said: “This is a significant success and a testimony to the hard work of the students and the support mechanisms put in place by the university.”
The current academic year has seen further big increases in the number of disabled students – there are now 2,704.
The number receiving Disabled Students’Allowance has grown by 30.4% and there are 45.7% more students who have received Personal Learning Support Plans, outlining the adjustments that the university puts in place for each student in contact with Disability Services.
The move comes as national figures show disabled people are around twice as likely not to hold any qualifications compared with non-disabled people and around half as likely to hold a degree-level qualification.
Andrea Faulkner, who is the university’s Head of Wellbeing and Disability Services said: “The issues that we deal with can be quite simple – such as arranging car parking – to some things that are more complex. We do have some difficult scenarios sometimes, but I think we can rise to any challenge.
“For example, there was a student – since graduated – who suffered unexpected and inexplicable non-epileptic fits. We had to make specific arrangements for when she was working in laboratories and for a quiet place to lie down after a fit with someone to stay with her afterwards. This also included liaison with the university’s Health and Safety department.”
The university has four advisors working closely with the learning support co-ordinators and the disability co-ordinators in each academic school. They deal with a full range of disabilities, medical conditions, sensory impairments, Asperger syndrome, specific learning difficulties and mental health issues.
In addition to ensuring access and providing specialist facilities such a fully-equipped hygiene rooms, they can make arrangements that include access to speech recognition software and for specially-trained note-takers who ensure that disabled students benefit fully from lectures.
And the university is hoping a new Learning and Leisure Centre (LLC) will continue the strong reputation for meeting the needs of disabled students.
Scheduled for completion in 2014, the £22.4m project will include a fully-equipped Access Centre where the requirements of disabled students can be fully assessed on site.
The Rev Paul Wilcock, who is the University of Huddersfield’s director of student services, added: “We are rapidly becoming the university of choice for disabled students and the new facilities at the LLC will confirm us as one of the nation’s top ten providers.”