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Press release: for release Wednesday 21st August 2002

Oxford University rejects deaf student

Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities was unsurprised to hear about the recent rejection of a deaf student, Anastasia Fedotova, by Oxford University. Anastasia got six grade As in her A levels but failed to win a place at Brasenose College, Oxford University after completing a written exam and two interviews. Skill's Information Service receives enquiries from thousands of disabled students each year, many of whom have experienced discrimination.

Anastasia's mother has been quoted about the application procedure, "I don't think she had a good chance to present herself properly and to show everything she is capable of." Manchester MP Tony Lloyd has asked Oxford University to explain its decision.

Skill's Chief Executive, Barbara Waters, commented, "If Anastasia has been disadvantaged in the application process because of her disability, then this is simply unacceptable. Universities should always make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled students have equal opportunities when applying to and during their time at university. With a deaf student, this might involve using sign language interpreters or assessing communication skills in an alternative way.

From September, the first legal rights for disabled students will be introduced in the Disability Discrimination Act Part 4: Education. If this case had happened next year, Oxford University may well have ended up in a court facing large legal bills and the possibility of having to pay out damages. But it is not just a matter of avoiding legal cases, at a time when it is widely agreed that institutions should be aiming to widen participation, they should be doing everything they possibly can to support disabled students as a matter of good practice."


For more information or to arrange interview's with Skill's Chief Executive or Policy Director, contact Liz Victor at Skill, Tel: 0207 450 0643 (office hours), Tel: 07890 419 867 (out of office hours), Email: [email protected].

Skill's letter printed in the Guardian, 21st August 2002
Skill's letter printed in the Independent, 21st August 2002

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). This will introduce the first legal rights for disabled students.
The post-16 sections of the Act apply to the following responsible bodies in England, Wales and Scotland:
- higher and further education institutions
- local education authorities and education authorities providing adult and community education
- youth services (except voluntary groups)
- other 'designated' institutions (including special further education residential colleges)
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'.

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