University changes exam policies under public and legal pressure to accommodate disabilities.
After coming under significant pressure the University has changed its exam procedure for this coming diet and is reinstating the provision of extra time for students with disabilities. Under the initial policy for this diet, only students who normally received 100% extra time would have received any accommodation. The majority of students who receive adjustments are awarded 25% extra time and they were not set to receive any additional support in the upcoming exam period.
The Scottish Just Law Centre at Just Right Scotland, a charity that seeks to uphold human rights law, claimed the initial exam provision to be unlawful under section 21 of the Equality Act 2010, as under section 20 exams are discriminatory and as such reasonable adjustments must be put in place so that non-disabled peers are not at an advantage. They claimed removal of the extra provisions put students with disabilities at a disadvantage compared to their peers and as a result, amounted to unlawful disability discrimination. The Scottish Just Law Centre published an open letter to urge students affected to appeal the Universities decision.
The University subsequently changed its policy. This was announced in an email sent out on Saturday 24th April, just two days before the start of this semester’s exam period, where Professor Jill Morrison, vice principal and clerk of senate, who is leading an ongoing audit and internal review of the disability service, advised students that in addition to the 100% extra time they will receive an hour extra to submit their answers. The email also reiterated the University’s rationale that formed its initial decision that the 100% extra time awarded to all students was in part to allow students with disabilities the time to complete the exam, the Professor stated; “all timed exams will be allocated double the normal time…this allows for dealing with technical difficulties and to enable students with reasonable adjustment to have sufficient time.”
With policy now changed Professor Morrison urged students to contact their head of department to answer any queries prior to their exams.