Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities - go to homepage

Back to Press Release page

Vice Chancellors told they must wake up to change

"Vice Chancellors cannot afford, either in terms of financial cost or reputation damage, not to take the new disability discrimination legislation seriously. As well as a lack of adequate preparation for the new law, there is widespread ignorance throughout the sector of the seriousness of disability discrimination. It is as serious as sexual or racial discrimination and will be treated accordingly.

Disabled people must not be restricted in their choice of university or indeed made to feel that university is not an option open to them at all because of needless discrimination."

Barbara Waters, Chief Executive of Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities, told Vice Chancellors at the Universities UK conference, The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001: Promoting Inclusion for All, today, Tuesday 29 October 2002.

A recent audit carried out by Skill for the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council found that Scottish Higher Education Institutions had a long way to go before they were fully ready for the new law. There is little reason to think that things are any better south of the border. Particular issues highlighted by the audit were:

  • The disability officer seemed to carry all of the responsibility for disability issues across the institution with little strategic management support

  • Specialist support provision was underfunded across the sector

  • Few institutions monitored either their disabled students' numbers or their disabled students' progress and no institutions evaluated their provision for disabled students

  • Staff training on disability issues was not given high priority

  • There was little strategic planning across the institutions to ensure quality of provision for disabled students

Vice Chancellors and College Principals also recently demonstrated their lack of knowledge about their new legal obligations when they were challenged to complete Skill's quiz on the new law at


For more information, contact Liz Victor, Tel: 0207 450 0643, Email: [email protected]. Barbara Waters, Chief Executive of Skill, will be available for interview on Monday 28 October 2002 or at the conference on 29 October 2002.

"Policies and Procedures for Disabled Students in Readiness for Quality assurance Agency Compliance: Disability Needs Analysis" prepared by Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities, in conjunction with Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC).

Notes for Editors

1: Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities gives information and advice to thousands of disabled students every year on how to maximise their experiences in education (higher and further), volunteering, training, and employment. The Skill information service is open from Monday to Thursday, 1:30pm to 4:30pm, on 0800 328 5050 (voice) or 0800 068 2422 (text). Extensive information is publicly available on Skill's website: Skill also advises government policy makers and disseminates good practice through publications, conferences and professional networks. Skill is a registered charity with offices in London, Belfast and Edinburgh.

2: When the Government introduced the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 it amended Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to remove the exemption of education and introduced the new Part 4 (Education).
There are two main requirements of the law for 'responsible bodies':
1. Responsible bodies must not treat a disabled person 'less favourably' than a non disabled person for reasons related to his/her disability without 'justification'.
2. Responsible bodies will be required by law to make 'reasonable adjustments' to ensure that a disabled student is not placed at a 'substantial disadvantage'.

3: Further information on the Disability Discrimination Act Part 4: Education can be found at

[Posted 04.11.02]

to top

Home About us News Information Events Help Us Press Releases Skill Scotland Skill NI Into HE Into FE

Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities is a company limited by guarantee (2397897) and a registered charity (801971).
'Investor In People' logo'New Opportunities Fund' logo'Community Fund' logo