Yesterday saw the publication of a new report from the Greater London Authority into issues affecting disabled students in the capital.
Entitled ‘Disabled Students in London’ the report is a review of information, research and policy relating to disabled students in further and higher education, including students with learning difficulties and is relevant to disability organisations, student unions, educational institutions and policy makers and covers student characteristics, their patterns of study and financial support.
Themes include educational participation, achievement and student destinations. The report highlights recent successes and failures of the educational system as they affect disabled people and shows that across the board financial and other support are key factors in deciding whether a disabled person will go into further or higher education.
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said: ‘There are over 63,000 disabled people studying in London’s further and higher education institutions. However, this report shows that disabled people are under-represented in post-16 education and that they still face disadvantage in the education system.
‘I’m committed to London being a beacon for inclusion and accessibility. We must all continue to recognise the educational disadvantage faced by disabled people , work to remove barriers to greater participation, and deliver effective equality of opportunity for all London’s students.’
A Disability Rights Commission survey of disabled young people aged 16-24 found that, of those who had not gone on to further or higher education, nearly one third had been discouraged because of their impairment.
For example, they were worried about support, transport or accommodation.
In further and adult education, there is major under-representation of disabled people among older students. For example, 14 per cent of further education students over 60 are recorded as having a disability or learning difficulty; in the 60-64 age group alone, the Census figure for limiting long-term illness/disability in London’s population is 34 per cent.
The report also indicates that disabled further education students with good academic potential are under-achieving.
Disabled students in higher education say that the most significant barriers are staff attitudes and access to buildings and aids. Higher education institutions have very varied approaches as to whether they take on disabled students.
The publication of ‘Disabled Students in London’ coincides with major opportunities to improve the education and skills of disabled people through the London Skills and Employment Board, chaired by the Mayor, and through London’s Adult Skills, Training and Employment Strategy.