Government improves disability support

Craig MacLellan

The Scottish Executive has announced plans to implement new measures aimed at giving greater support and advice to disabled students.

The new procedures will mean that an expert group will review the case of any student who does not meet the existing criteria for assistance if their application has been supported by their institution.

Scottish students will be the first in the UK to benefit from the introduction of a formal procedure for exceptional cases.

Other changes announced include improvements to the applications process, an extension of the non-medical help allowance, and improved guidance to increase awareness of Disabled Student Allowance eligibility.

Fiona Hyslop, Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, believes that the changes will help to improve the access to support for disabled students.

She said: “Colleges and universities are working to continuously improve access for disabled students. This review will help us build on that work and ensure that disabled students get the support they need to undertake their studies on a level playing field with their peers.”

Gavin Lee, SRC President, welcomed the moves, hoping that they will help to possible barriers to higher education.

He said: “Increasing awareness of this support is crucial – funding can only be of use if students, or potential students, are aware of the resources. The University and the Government must ensure there is not an ‘information barrier’ to entering higher education.”

“For many disabled students, part-time study is the best option. It is concerning, then, that disabled students cannot receive funding if they are doing less than 50% of a full-time course.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the government providing support for these part-time disabled students in the future.”

Jo Evans, a fourth-year student at Glasgow University who requires the use of a wheelchair, believes that it is important to ensure that disabled people are aware of the support available to them at university in order to encourage more applications.

She said: “For people who aren’t aware there is support available there needs to be more publicity about the help available to help encourage applications.

“It is important to make people aware that there is help available and that they are entitled to it.”


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