disabled students
Image: The Liverpool School of English / Flickr

University of Liverpool criticised for failing to support disabled students

The University of Liverpool has been criticised for discriminating against disabled students over assignment extension requests and failing to address accessibility issues. 

Liverpool was accused of fining them for long-term assignment extensions and “had not been accommodating or sympathetic” according to one student.

She was unable to afford the £200 fine and therefore denied access to important documents and emails needed for her dissertation.

Felicity, another Liverpool student who is pursuing a postgraduate degree, said on Victoria Derbyshire that she had been charged £50 for a three-month extension, which eventually rose to £200, despite evidence from her doctors to show that medical reasons necessitated the extension.

The university responded that their policy entails a sum must be paid for extending studies due to personal and medical reasons, as this requires extra tuition and access to services.

They have since apologised and are in the process of reviewing this policy.

This issue raised wider problems surrounding Liverpool’s disability support. Nana, a student who has cerebral palsy and requires a wheelchair, claimed that they did not always accommodate her disability.

Living with a disability should never be a barrier to entering university

– Chris Skidmore

She was scheduled to have classes in wheelchair-inaccessible rooms several times. She was also unable to see her lecturers as some of their rooms were not disability-friendly.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request found that just 57 out of 100 buildings at Liverpool were fitted with lifts, which means that disabled students are unable to access a significant portion of lecture theatres and study spaces.

The University has since apologised and said that the issues over lecture rooms has been rectified. They added that they have over 3,000 disabled students and are working hard to support them.

Paul Redmond, the director of student experience, admitted that these accounts show how the university has fallen short and so moving forward, they will involve disabled students in reviews more often.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore wrote in The Guardian in January that universities “can do more to support their disabled students”.

“Living with a disability should never be a barrier to entering university. We all have a collective responsibility to break down these barriers one by one and make our universities work for everyone,” he said.

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