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Report suggests disabled students should receive support earlier to enter higher education

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The University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) recently published its report “Next Steps: What is the Educational Experience of Students with Disabilities?” suggesting that students with disabilities need to be supported earlier when they enter higher education.

The UK-based organization is calling for facilitating and supporting student journeys and learning through the expansion of Adaptation Passports to cover the transition from higher education to work, Erudera.com reports.

The research included a record number of applications submitted by people with disabilities between September 2020 and the start of the academic year last autumn, as well as the results of a survey of around 5,000 Britons applying to UCAS until January 2022.

According to the survey results, only 17 percent of respondents had access to inclusive extracurricular activities in colleges and schools.

About 44 percent of students expected that there would be a social life at university or college “good” or “excellent” however, preliminary UCAS data showed that 28 per cent of disabled students were more likely to procrastinate.

The number of entrants with disabilities who defer their education increased by 7 percent in 2019 to 8.2 percent in 2021, with the sharpest increase among those with social, behavioral or communication disabilities, who were 11 percent more likely to defer than enrollees without disability.

Commenting on the report’s recommendations, Minister for Disability, Health and Work Chloe Smith MP said disabled students should be given the same opportunities to reach their full potential and succeed in life as everyone else.

“In the coming months, we will be looking at the next steps for the passport, building on what we have learned so far, and I look forward to following the students’ progress and understanding the difference it makes to their transition to work,” Smith said, adding that the adaptive passports have been well received by students with disabilities.

UCAS chief executive Claire Marchant said the survey showed optimism that social life would be richer than at school.

Marchant noted that 56 percent of applicants surveyed said they researched support for students with disabilities before applying and rated equity, diversity and inclusion at the institution as important factors.

“UCAS is already working closely with institutions to help them share this information, but will do even more to make it available to help applicants with their research earlier.” Marchant emphasized.

Adjustments Passport provides students with disabilities with an up-to-date record of adjustments and assists the latter with their future employment needs.

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