Admissions guide for applicants with special needs

In accordance with the Equal Opportunities Policy, applicants will be assessed for admission according to the Admissions Regulations for Taught Courses and considered for their academic suitability to study in separation from the discussion centred on the applicant’s other needs. These procedures also apply to students who have suspended and wish to return to study. However, the University has a duty of care to all staff and students and cannot guarantee to provide for the needs of every individual.

The Equality Act (2010) places a legal obligation on higher education institutions (HEIs) not to discriminate against disabled applicants for reasons relating to their disability.

There are, however, some justifications for assessing applicants prior to offer. For some disabilities and some courses, it may be necessary to carry out a risk assessment before making an offer. The appropriate Disability Adviser should be contacted for support in finding out more about the nature of the applicant’s disability, and advice on what reasonable adjustments could be made to eliminate an assessed risk. Only after reasonable adjustments have been seriously considered and dismissed as being unfeasible can the applicant’s disability be used as a reason to refuse entry to the course.

Mobility

HEIs must comply with the Equality Act. However, applicants with significant mobility difficulties should inform the University of their disability in good time to ensure their access needs are met. An offer going out to applicants in this category requires the University to ensure that it is fully accessible to the student and the Disability Adviser should be contacted for support with the assessment.

Where adjustments cannot be made prior to enrolment on a course, the applicant may have to defer entry.

Teaching methods

Courses and modules may have different methods of teaching such as lecture, laboratory, seminar and Blackboard. Applicants must be sure that they are able to use all teaching and learning methods.

Non-UK applicants

The University is obliged not to discriminate against disabled non-UK applicants, but they are not eligible for the same level of individual funding received by the majority of UK students. This means that a decision has to be made about whether the cost of supporting/making reasonable adjustments can be met by the University. The appropriate Disability Adviser should be contacted to arrange an assessment.

Health and safety

For some disabilities and some courses, it may be necessary to carry out a risk assessment before making an offer. The appropriate Disability Adviser should be contacted for support in finding out more about the nature of the applicant’s disability, and advice on what reasonable adjustments could be made to eliminate an assessed risk. Only after reasonable adjustments have been seriously considered and dismissed as being unfeasible can the applicant’s disability be used as a reason to refuse entry to the course.

‘Material and substantial reasons’

Occasionally the nature of an applicant’s disability will conflict in essence with the nature of the course. For further information and guidance on whether a particular set of circumstances contain ‘material and substantial’ issues, please consult the Disability Adviser.

Maintenance of academic standards

Any justification for discrimination would have to be relevant to the academic standards of a particular course and to the abilities of an individual applicant. Consideration must also be given to how a disabled student might meet the learning outcomes of their course through different methods of assessment.

Applicants admitted during the clearing process

The University will endeavour to make any reasonable adjustments necessary to accommodate learning support requirements. However, given the short timescale between clearing and enrolment, it may not be possible to fully accommodate the needs of a student in time to allow for enrolment in that year. Students admitted through clearing are strongly advised to contact the University Disability Adviser.

All students attending a course at the University of Westminster must be:

  • able to demonstrate the ability to cope emotionally and practically with the workload of a higher education course
  • aware of the demands of the course
  • not a risk to themselves or other students and staff of the University of Westminster

Processes for applicants with special needs

  1. All applications will be assessed initially on the basis of academic ability.
  2. Where an offer is to be made to the applicant and a disability condition code of 4 (use of a wheelchair or having mobility difficulties) or 8 (two or more disabilities) has been declared on the application form, the University will invite the student to meet a Disability Adviser and attend an access tour.
  3. If it is deemed necessary, the student will be invited to come in to the University to ensure that s/he can see the facilities available but also to give them a clear understanding of the limitations of any campus. Again, the letter inviting the student to visit will make it clear that it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that they are able to undertake the course.
  4. The decision on whether or not a student can undertake a course will be taken by the Head of Faculty with advice from the Disability Tutor and Adviser.

Clearing

During clearing, applicants may be made an offer based on information provided over the telephone. It is important, in these cases, that the formal offer instructs students with special needs to contact the University and arrange to visit, and makes it clear that it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that they are able to attend the course.

Where major adjustments are required, it may not be possible to admit an applicant in that year.

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