Lancaster University Student Disability Policy
Lancaster University is committed to the principles of inclusion and equal opportunities. This document describes Lancaster University’s policy for supporting students with disabilities within the context of the Equality and Diversity Strategy 2013 to 2016.
The Equality Act 2010 (the Act hereafter) harmonises and replaces previous legislation, consolidating equality legislation with respect to nine protected characteristics, including disability. The Act sets out the ways in which it is unlawful to treat someone, such as direct and indirect discrimination, discrimination arising from disability, harassment, victimisation and failing to make a reasonable adjustment. To be protected by the Act, a person must have a disability as defined by the Act, or be able to establish that any less favourable treatment or harassment is because of a perceived disability or another person’s disability (discrimination due to disability by association). In cases of less favourable treatment a comparison would be made with a non-disabled comparator whose circumstances are not materially different. Discrimination due to disability by association only applies to direct discrimination and harassment, not to reasonable adjustments or discrimination arising from disability, as defined in the Act. Lancaster University is liable for any breaches of the Act through the actions of its employees and agents of the institution unless it can show that it took ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent the discrimination, harassment or victimisation from taking place. In some circumstances an employee or agent of the institution may be personally liable for acts of direct or indirect discrimination, harassment or victimisation, as defined in the Act.
Disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Long term means it has lasted for at least 12 months, it is likely to last at least 12 months, or it is likely to last for the rest of the life of the person. Also covered by the definition are people with a severe disfigurement; HIV infection, cancer or multiple sclerosis. Additionally, people who have had a disability in the past are covered, which may be particularly relevant for people with fluctuating and/or reoccurring impairments.
Reasonable adjustment is defined as a decision taken by the University to allow students non-standard arrangements in relation to their experience at Lancaster. Adjustments will be made within the parameters of the following factors:
- The nature of student circumstances and needs following consultation with the student and examination of available evidence and relevant assessments;
- The nature of the academic programme of study including the existence of competence or fitness to train/practice standards set by the institution or applied by the institution on behalf of or recommended by a professional, statutory or regulatory body;
- The likely effectiveness of the adjustment in removing the disadvantage;
- The practicality of the adjustment, taking account of: disruption, health and safety issues, the reasonable expectations of others and external factors (for example, factors in relation to student placements);
- The costs, including the availability of external funding sources to assist in the adjustment;
- Legal precedent.
Student Disability Policy
- Lancaster University acknowledges that the disadvantage and exclusion faced by many disabled people is not an inevitable result of an impairment or health condition but can arise from environmental, social and attitudinal barriers and institutional practices.
- Lancaster University will not discriminate against disabled students by subjecting them to 'less favourable treatment'.
- Lancaster University will, as far as possible through reasonable adjustments, change practices or environments to remove any disabling effects or barriers to participation, in order that disabled students can fully participate in the education, facilities and services provided by the University.
- Lancaster University will endeavour to be anticipatory in making reasonable adjustments and in taking proportionate steps to overcome barriers which potentially impede or disadvantage people with disabilities.
- Lancaster University will promote a culture of positive attitudes towards disability and endeavour to increase disclosure of disability, as greater disclosure will help the university improve support for disabled students.
- This policy applies to current student as well as former students where there is a continuing relationship or students holding qualifications conferred by the institution, who are defined as having a disability. Specifically, the University will not act in way which disadvantages former students with a disability/disabilities in comparison with students without a disability/disabilities. This only applies if the disadvantage arises out of and is closely connected with them having been a student.
- This policy applies to all disabled students regardless of nationality, fee status or place of residence.
- The Student Disability Policy will be available from the Disability Service website and the Equality and Diversity Human Resources webpages.
- Staff will be informed about the Policy and its implementation through:
- The Disability Service cross-university Disability Group meeting. Members include academic departmental disability representatives, other University support staff (e.g. Disability Service, Faculty Student Learning Advisors, Human Resources, CEEC, Library, ISS) and LUSU representatives.
- The Disability Group virtual learning environment which is accessible to all enrolled Disability Group members and any university staff on request to the Disability Service.
- Student Based Services training events.
- Organisation and Educational Development courses.
- Advice from the Disability Service.
Responsibilities arising from the Policy
- All staff and students of Lancaster University have a personal responsibility to adhere to and to apply this policy in their dealings with others, both internal and external to the University.
- Lancaster University expects all staff to be aware of this policy and the related legislation, and to treat disabled people in accordance with this policy.
- Students are responsible for disclosing their disability to the University.
- Students have the right not to disclose a disability or to request that the existence or nature of their disability be treated as strictly confidential and therefore not shared with relevant staff across the University. Requests for strict confidentiality may mean that a less satisfactory adjustment is provided or that no adjustment can be provided.
- Where a disability impacts upon professional fitness to train/practice standards, students are personally responsible for disclosing relevant information about their disability/disabilties or medical condition(s) in line with professional accreditation requirements.
- Any staff member or student in breach of this Policy may be personally liable for their actions and may be subject to University disciplinary processes defined by other University policies.
- The University cannot be held liable for not implementing reasonable adjustments retrospectively (i.e. prior to disclosure of disability).
- Students are encouraged to disclose their disability/disabilities and to discuss their support needs as early as possible with the Disability Service to enable reasonable adjustments to be implemented.
- The University will manage the process of information sharing and will treat all personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1998); access to disability-related information will be provided on a need to know basis only, in order for reasonable adjustments to be implemented. Where a student is on an exchange to another institution or on a placement as part of their degree programme, relevant information may be shared with the consent of the student to ensure reasonable adjustments will be provided at the host institution / organisation and to ensure no disadvantage is experienced by students engaged on exchanges and placements.
- Students are responsible for requesting any review of implemented reasonable adjustments, if such adjustments are not proving to be effective in meeting their entitlements.
Responsibilities for the Policy
- The Pro-Vice Chancellor for Colleges and the Student Experience is the accountable officer for this Policy; accountability exercised through the Colleges and the Student Experience Committee (CSEC). The University Student Wellbeing Manager is responsible for the implementation and operational review of this Policy. The Policy will be reviewed by CSEC, or any subsequent body, after 1 year in the first instance and then subsequently every 5 years.
- The Senate, as the body with responsibility for students, has delegated the duty to make reasonable adjustments to Student Based Services, through procedures operated in the Disability Office.
- The Student Wellbeing Manager has delegated authority to make minor changes to Policy wording and content. Such changes will be reported to CSEC.
- Major changes to the Policy, such as significant content changes, changes to responsibilities, policy application or changes resulting from new legislation, must be approved directly by the Colleges and Student Experience Committee.