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Improving provision for disabled students

We are committed to enhancing provision for disabled students in higher education.

We aim to achieve this by supporting higher and further education institutions in this area, maintaining the overall stability of our funding to them, and ensuring that disability considerations inform the broader equality, learning and teaching and widening participation agendas.


The objectives of our policy are to:

  • embed disability work across our strategic aims
  • work with sector partners to build capacity in institutions at all levels
  • contribute to culture change in higher education, encouraging proactive and mainstreaming approaches to improving provision for disabled students
  • support institutions in implementing the requirements of current and future legislation
  • reduce the accountability burden on institutions.

HEFCE Circular letter 02/2005 - Improving provision for disabled students gives more information on our current policies to enhance provision for disabled students.

Review of policy

In 2008 and 2009 we reviewed our policy as it relates to disabled students. The review included:

  • a review of our funding method for the mainstream disability allocation to ensure that it remains fit for purpose
  • commissioned research to establish what the sector is doing currently to meet the needs of disabled students and the progress that has been made since the publication of HEFCE 99/04 'Guidance on base line provision for disabled students in higher education institutions'
  • an evaluation of the Disability Equality Partnership (DEP) which was a collaborative arrangement between Action on Access, the Higher Education Academy and the Equality Challenge Unit, and provided advice and guidance to institutions on improving provision for disabled students.

Full details of the review can be found in HEFCE Circular Letter 31/2007 - Review of HEFCE policy as it relates to disabled students.

Review update

  • 'Evaluation of Provision and Support for Disabled Students in Higher Education'
    This report carried out research into higher education provision and support for disabled students in England and Wales. We and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales commissioned a team from the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds to undertake the research.
  • 'Review of Disability Equality Partnership'
    This report, carried out by Oakleigh Consulting, is an independent formative evaluation of the DEP that informed the partnership's work for the duration of its contract. It also helped us to develop our policy towards disabled students beyond 2008 and 2009.

These research reports have informed our review of our policy as it relates to disabled students. We have now published a document which sets out the outcomes of the review (see Outcomes of HEFCE review of its policy as it relates to disabled students (HEFCE 2009/49)).

To find out more contact Jean Arnold on 0117 931 7467, e-mail or Alex Lewis on 0117 931 7386, e-mail

Last updated 20 January 2010