Disability roles and responsibilities

Responsibility for meeting the needs of disabled students is shared across the collegiate University with the Disability Advisory Service, the colleges, the departments and the Proctors taking lead roles. All activities relating to provision for disabled students are undertaken in the interests of working towards a common goal of excellence in accessibility and student experience.

Therefore, staff should endeavour to be proactive in considering the needs of all of their students and adopt a collaborative approach to ensure that the guiding principles of the Common Framework are upheld and that reasonable adjustments are implemented wherever necessary. All employees of the collegiate University have a duty to comply with the Equality Act and should be aware of their obligations under the Act. 

Each college and department will designate particular members of staff to coordinate and lead on planning and support for disabled students. These individuals will be:

  • Able to identify and seek to overcome barriers disabled students face in relation to their studies at Oxford and take steps to remove them where possible.

  • Mindful of the need for sensitive and confidential communications.

In most cases, responsibilities will be split between a senior member of staff who is able to take strategic oversight of provision, the Disability Lead, and another member of staff who will be the principal point of contact for arranging and implementing individual adjustments, the Disability Coordinator.


The roles and responsibilities of Disability Coordinators and Leads


The responsibilities of colleges, departments and faculties extend to teaching and learning activities, including reasonable adjustments where appropriate to examinations and assessments, accommodation, welfare, collegiate social and sporting activities as appropriate.

While collaboration is a key theme supporting the Common Framework, it is important to note that overarching responsibility for decision-making in respect of reasonable adjustments rests with the appropriate body legally responsible for meeting the requirements of the Equality Act; colleges in matters relating to college provision, and the University in matters relating to departments and faculties. Disability Advisory Service recommendations are made in order to support colleges and the University as they consider their obligations to make reasonable adjustments.

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It is the direct responsibility of Divisions to ensure that the provision of non-subject specific training programmes for postgraduate students is consistent with the University’s responsibilities to ensure that disability-related issues are given appropriate consideration and that students have the opportunity to identify any requirements.

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The role of the Proctors in relation to disabled students is to give approval for examination adjustments, investigate alleged misconduct, taking disability into account if necessary, and investigate complaints or academic appeals including disability-related factors affecting performance after examinations.

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The Oxford University Student Union's (OUSU) role in supporting disabled students includes providing advice, representing and advocating for students and liaising with other parts of the collegiate University to improve the student experience for all, as well as working with individual students facing difficult situations.

Oxford Student Union demonstrates its commitment to equality by having a full-time Vice-President (Welfare and Equal Opportunities) who promotes student wellbeing across Oxford, including that of disabled students. The Vice-President (Welfare and Equal Opportunities) regularly advocates on behalf of disabled students and other liberation groups to the University and external bodies.

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To ensure effective provision is made for all, students with disabilities have a role to collaborate actively and in a timely manner with academic and administrative staff within the collegiate University. It can take some time to put everything in place and so the University relies on students to respond and act within reasonable timeframes.

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Libraries play a key role in supporting the learning, teaching and research objectives of the University of Oxford. Access to libraries and collections is essential for all members of the academic community and libraries are committed to providing an excellent library experience for disabled readers.

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Contact us:

Disability Advisory Service
3 Worcester Street
Oxford, OX1 2BX
01865 280459

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