Guidance for staff on student administration and support
As with home students, visiting students with a disability should register with the Disability Advisory Service, who will advise on whether a Student Support Plan (SSP) is needed, after reviewing medical evidence and consulting with the student. With permission from the student, administrators should pass the details of incoming visiting students to DAS, so contact can be made with the student as soon as possible after their visit is confirmed. The process of drafting the SSP and making arrangements within college and departments can take time, so the sooner the student is referred to DAS, the more likely that adjustments can be put in place in time for the beginning of the visit.
Visiting students are not eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowance. In those cases where the adjustments recommended have a significant cost for the University the question of recovery of those costs needs to be addressed with the home country or the organisation funding the visit at an early stage, where possible.
Certified translations are needed with the submission of medical evidence where the original is not in English, and this needs to be paid for by the student or home institution.
It is recommended that students register with their college GP. Students from the European Economic Area (EEA) and any country with reciprocal health arrangements are eligible for free treatment under the National Health Service (NHS). Incoming students should be advised to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before arriving in Oxford, and reminded to show the card if medical treatment is needed whilst in the UK. Those who paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of a visa application on or after 6 April 2015 are also allowed access to the NHS free of charge.
Non-matriculated courses do not confer formal membership of the University or college membership, and this includes most PG Cert and PG Dip courses. However, all DPhil, MPhil and MSc/MSt courses will involve college membership. Many of the non-matriculated courses available are offered by the Department for Continuing Education, and many non-matriculated graduate students have a college association with Kellogg College. Non-matriculated courses are often part-time and undertaken at long distance.
These features of non-matriculated courses need to be taken into account in the assessment of the students’ needs, the recommendations that are made in the SSP, and the support that disabled students receive from the University, their department and college (if applicable).
For those students who do not have a college association, pastoral support is the responsibility of the relevant department. As for all students, it is important for disabled students to have access to effective pastoral and peer support. As many non-matriculated students are part-time and on long-distance or low-residency courses, having access to a support network and to pastoral care will mitigate the risk of feelings of isolation developing, and help prevent reduced engagement with the course because of outside responsibilities (more likely when a course is undertaken part-time). Feelings of isolation can be particularly difficult for disabled students, for example those with a mental health condition, or those who may already be feeling concerns about how they may be perceived by others, or how they will progress with the course, as a result of their disability.
Some courses involve long-distance learning, interspersed with short, intensive periods of residency in Oxford.
In addition to the provision of individual reasonable adjustments for disabled students, it is important that whilst undertaking long-distance learning:
Clear objectives are set for time spent away from Oxford.
There is effective communication with tutors and other support staff during time away from Oxford; expectations should be set about what level of contact can be expected.
There should be effective means for students to communicate with each other: online forums and mailing lists so that students can develop their own peer support networks.
On-line courses need to have accessibility and inclusivity in mind from the beginning. See the Centre for Teaching and Learning's guidance on accessibility and inclusivity in Canvas, and accessible documents and PowerPoint presentations. There is also guidance on targeted reading lists in this handbook.
Students need to be given explicit advice about study methods effective for long distance, part-time courses and further study support should be available.
During periods of intensive study in Oxford:
Reasonable adjustments need to be agreed in good time ahead of periods of residency. The Disability Coordinator should monitor the success of reasonable adjustments put in place after the first residency and make adjustments if needed.
Intensive study can be difficult for some students – it is important to put in place any reasonable adjustments necessary as a result, such as lecture capture, materials provided at least 24 hours in advance of teaching sessions, timetable changes and opportunities for short-breaks during sessions. If these measures can be anticipated and made available to all students, then this can potentially benefit all and reduce the need to make ad hoc adjustments.
It is the relevant department’s responsibility to ensure that their Equality Act duties to make reasonable adjustments are met. The departmental Disability Coordinator (and Disability Lead in complex cases) should talk with the student about their needs, gather medical evidence if necessary, and implement reasonable adjustments that are agreed, in conjunction with course convenors, tutors, learning technologists and other staff as necessary.
Disabled students undertaking short, non-award bearing courses, are unlikely to be eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). Students need to be working at an intensity of 25% or more of a full-time course to be eligible. The department should meet reasonable costs incurred to implement the adjustments required for students who are ineligible for DSA.
The Disability Advisory Service is available to students studying for award-bearing courses only, but Disability Coordinators in departments are welcome to contact the service to discuss complex cases.
There are additional considerations particular to the support of international disabled students.
Perceptions of disability vary from culture to culture. Some international students may be less likely to inform the University of a disability at the application stage, and may also be less likely to inform the University during their studies, because they expect disclosure to have a negative effect on how they are perceived.
Students who have experience in another education system may have different expectations about what support they will receive from the University. It is important that the support the University can provide to mitigate disadvantages experienced by disabled students is prominently and positively communicated to international students in admissions and pre-arrival communications. Because of cultural differences in the perception of disability, some international students may be less likely to want to take up the offer of support services, because of their own preconceptions about what constitutes ‘a level playing field’. Whilst being respectful of students’ views, it is important that Disability Coordinators and Disability Advisors provide the advice about what adjustments may help them achieve their full potential, and reassure the student concerned that this is fair.
International students who declare a disability on application will be proactively contacted by DAS. As with home students, they will need to register with DAS and provide medical evidence of their disability. Students should be encouraged to engage with the Service at an early stage as the process for agreeing and putting in place adjustments can take some time, and it is preferable to have the support in place on their arrival. Initial appointments with a Disability Advisor can be conducted by telephone or Skype.
Medical evidence needs to be submitted on registration with DAS, and where the original is in a language other than English, a certified translation will need to be supplied by the student.
Other education systems may have different established norms around exam adjustments. For example, students from the United States with an SpLD may have received substantial extra time (e.g. 50% or more) in timed examinations. As part of the drafting of the Student Support Plan, the disability advisor/SpLD specialists will examine evidence relating to previous exam adjustments, alongside medical evidence/diagnostic assessments to ensure that the adjustments made to examinations meet the student’s needs, but is also in line with that received by others with an equivalent need.
There is some introductory guidance on housing for international students with a disability on the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.
Colleges and the graduate accommodation office should communicate at an early stage with offer-holders: to ascertain any specific requirements for accommodation the student has as a result of their disability; the availability of appropriate housing; and to discuss what may be possible in terms of accessible or adapted accommodation and the cost implications of this.
International students are not eligible for DSA funding, but the University contributes reasonable costs to disability-related study support for international students whose independent and/or home country sources of funding are exhausted.
International students must self-fund any personal or social care support.
Students from the European Economic Area (EEA) and any country with reciprocal health arrangements are eligible for free treatment under the National Health Service (NHS). Incoming students should register with their college GP, who can set up an necessary referrals to specialists for any necessary medical treatment for their disability. Eligible students should be advised to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before arriving in Oxford, and reminded to show the card if medical treatment is needed whilst in the UK. Those who paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of a visa application on or after 6 April 2015 are also allowed access to the NHS free of charge.
You should check whether you are entitled to free medical treatment under the NHS. Visit the Doctors and nurses web page for more information.
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Disability Advisory Service