further & higher education
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Online Conference: The Disabled Students Forum 2020

further & higher education

Wednesday 8 July 2020 - Thursday 9 July 2020

Online Conference

The Disabled Students Forum this year will run as an online conference taking place across the mornings of 8th and 9th July 2020. Join us for 14 brilliant sessions delivered across 2 days.

The Disabled Students Forum 2020 will explore the next steps for the higher education sector in working to improve the overall student experience for disabled students and working to ensure that every campus promotes a fair and inclusive culture.

Through expert-led sessions, the forum will assess the latest innovations across the sector in enhancing teaching and learning practices for disabled students, embedding universal design for learning (UDL), improving the transition to university and supporting high quality graduate outcomes for disabled students.

What to expect from an Inside Government online conference:

  • 2 day Conference delivered via an interactive online platform
  • Conference delivered across two mornings from 9am to 1pm on both days
  • 13 sessions delivered with live presentations and resources
  • Opportunities for virtual networking and discussion supported by interaction tools and break-out rooms
  • Varied formats and screen breaks to support an engaging experience
Audience

This Forum is specifically designed for Higher Education sector. Those in attendance will include:

  • Heads of Disability Services
  • Heads of Disability Advisory and Support Services
  • Heads of Student Services
  • Heads of Disability Resource Centres
  • Heads of Student Wellbeing
  • Directors of Student Experience
  • Disability Advisors
  • Senior HEP Managers
  • Directors of Academic and Student Services
  • Student Engagement Managers
  • Senior Lecturers
  • Support Managers
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Managers
  • Dyslexia Coordinators
  • Heads of Accommodation and Estates
Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Professor Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton and Chair, Disabled Student’s Commission
  • Amy Norton, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Office for Students
  • Paul Higgs, Student Finance Directorate, Department for Education
  • Dr Ann-Marie Houghton, Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Lancaster University and Director, Researching Equity, Access and Participation (REAP)
  • Piers Wilkinson, Disabled Students Officer, National Union of Students
  • Dr Tim Coughlan, Lecturer, Institute of Educational Technology, Open University
  • Raven Pratt, Head of Student Wellbeing, Brunel University
  • Keren Coney, Member AGCAS Disability Task Group, Careers Adviser, Liverpool John Moores University
  • Professsor Nicola Martin, Head of Research, Higher Degrees and Student Experience, London South Bank University
  • Professor Sarah Sharples, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, University of Nottingham
  • Heather Stenhouse, Strategic Lead, Breaking Barriers Programme, Strathclyde University
  • Gary McGladdery, Disability Services Manager, Nottingham Trent University
  • Dr Leanne Thompson, Disability & Inclusion Manager, Lancaster University
  • Jenny Brady, Project Lead- Inclusivity, The Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence (LITE), University of Leeds
  • Claire Shanks, Disability Support Adviser, University of York
  • Caroline Briggs, Assistive Technology Officer, University of Cumbria
  • Mike Chung, Student Support and Wellbeing Manager, University College London (UCL)
  • Daniela de Silva, Specific Learning Difficulties Adviser, University of Westminster
View the agenda and additional speakers

Day 1 – Wednesday 8th July 2020


08:45

Conference Login and Accessing the Online Platform

*Please note to comply with the government’s social distancing guidelines, this Conference will run entirely via an online platform. Specific joining instructions and guidance will be provided to registered delegates


09:00

Chair's Welcome Address: Day 1

Dr Ann-Marie Houghton, Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Lancaster University and Director, Researching Equity, Access and Participation (REAP) (CONFIRMED)


09:10

Morning Keynote: Enhancing Inclusion and Progression for Disabled Students – The OfS Perspective

  • Addressing persistent gaps in access and progression for disabled students through oversight of Access and Participation Plans
  • Exploring ongoing barriers to inclusive teaching and learning across the sector and assessing the next steps in learning from key innovators
  • Assessing key challenges presented by data collection and student disclosure in analysing the progression and outcomes for disabled students
  • Embedding the Social Model into all aspects of student life to support the restructuring of environment and attitudes across higher education institutions
  • Examining what institutions may learn from the Covid-19 crisis in delivering inclusive teaching practices

Amy Norton, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Office for Students (OfS) (CONFIRMED)


09:30

The Next Steps for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) in Supporting Inclusivity

  • Examining the reforms to Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), and how DSAs fit into the wider funding for disabled students in higher education
  • Exploring how responses to the Covid-19 crisis may affect disabled students across the sector in the longer term

Paul Higgs, Student Finance Directorate, Department for Education (CONFIRMED)


09:50

A National Update on the New Disabled Students’ Commission

  • Examining the purpose of the Disabled Student’s Commission and its objectives in advising the sector on improved support for disabled students
  • Exploring new approaches to what works for disabled students through the identification and development of sector wide innovations
  • Discussing solutions in overcoming the attainment and progression gaps facing disabled students and how outcomes can be enhanced for graduates

Professor Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton and Chair, Disabled Student’s Commission (CONFIRMED)


10:10

Questions and Answers Session


10:30

Break and Networking Groups


10:50

Panel Discussion: The Future of Transitions into Higher Education for Disabled Students Following the Covid-19 Crisis

With major uncertainty on how teaching provision and university life will be supported in 2020/21, this discussion will explore:

  • What does the Covid-19 crisis mean for disability services in supporting effective transition into university life for disabled students?
  • How can reasonable adjustments and the quality of teaching provision be maintained for disabled students entering higher education in September?
  • How can inclusive support provision, mental health services and outreach programmes be delivered in a world of social distancing and remote learning

Dr Leanne Thompson, Disability and Inclusion Manager, Lancaster University (CONFIRMED)

Claire Shanks, Disability Support Adviser, University of York (CONFIRMED)

Mike Chung, Student Support and Wellbeing Manager, University College London (UCL) (CONFIRMED)

Daniela de Silva, Specific Learning Difficulties Adviser, University of Westminster (CONFIRMED)


11:30

Panel Discussion: Assistive Technology and Remote Learning – Lessons Learnt from the Covid-19 Crisis

With most institutions forced to switch provision to remote learning as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, this session will assess:

  • What can the roll out of remote learning across institutions teach the sector in delivering inclusive teaching?
  • What are the key barriers facing disability services in ensuring assistive technology meets the needs of all disabled students remotely?
  • What are the next steps in enhancing assistive technology to ensure consistent and inclusive integration into all aspects of university life?

Dr Tim Coughlan, Lecturer, Institute of Educational Technology, Open University (CONFIRMED)

Gary McGladdery, Disability Services Manager, Nottingham Trent University (CONFIRMED)

Caroline Briggs, Assistive Technology Officer, University of Cumbria (CONFIRMED)


12:00

Break and Networking Groups


12:20

Embedding the Voice of Disabled Students into Provision and Delivery

  • Ensuring all disabled students have equal access to learning and are effectively supported through reasonable adjustments
  • Understanding the experiences of disabled students who have not had their needs met or have faced barriers in student life
  • Examining how institutions can better support disabled students facing prejudice and discrimination
  • Assessing how the voice of disabled students can be embedded into decision making in higher education

Piers Wilkinson, Disabled Students’ Officer, National Union of Students and Student Voice Commissioner, Disabled Students’ Commission (CONFIRMED)


12:40

Implementing New Models of Support for Disabled Students – A Sector Review

  • Assessing the central outcomes following the Institute for Employment Studies’ report into two years of implementation of new models of support across higher education
  • Examining the sector’s progress including a growth in accessibility plans, the expansion of assistive technology and enhanced approach to co-design of services
  • Analysing key trends in data usage and outcomes measurement in assessing the effectiveness of inclusion and widening participation
  • Sharing the core patterns identified across the sector in delivering an effective institution-wide approach in shifting to an inclusive model of support

Discussion led by Dr Ann-Marie Houghton, Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Lancaster University and Director, Researching Equity, Access and Participation (REAP) (CONFIRMED


13:00

Chair's Day 1 Summary


Day 2 – Thursday 9th July 2020


08:45

Conference Login and Accessing the Online Platform

* Specific joining instructions and guidance will be provided to registered delegates


09:00

Chair's Welcome Address: Day 2

Dr Ann-Marie Houghton, Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Lancaster University and Director, Researching Equity, Access and Participation (REAP) (CONFIRMED)


09:10

Case Study: Closing the Attainment Gap and Supporting Progression for Disabled Students

  • Exploring the development of the sector-leading Breaking Barriers programme supporting students with learning difficulties attend university and gain work placements with leading employers
  • Sharing insights on the learning support offered to ensure students gain skills, progress academically and engage in applied learning opportunities
  • Embedding inclusivity into the learning experience by partnering with third year peer mentors and delivering tailored progression routes
  • Discussing what the programme can teach the sector in supporting effective progression and closing the attainment gap for disabled students

Winner of Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards 2019

Heather Stenhouse, Strategic Lead, Breaking Barriers Programme, Strathclyde University (CONFIRMED)


09:40

Case Study: Providing a Holistic Student Experience

  • Providing a holistic wellbeing service for student with disabilities
  • How migrating Student Wellbeing’s information system has provided students with a seamless, more reliant, and secure support provision
  • Inclusive teaching- the journey so far and how Covid-19 may help further promote inclusive provision at Brunel University London

Raven Pratt, Head of Student Wellbeing, Brunel University (CONFIRMED)


10:10

Break and Networking Groups


10:30

Practical Insights: Improving Employment Outcomes for Disabled Graduates

  • Examining the common challenges facing disabled students entering the graduate labour market
  • Exploring solutions and ideas in improving progression rates and equalising access to employment opportunities
  • Analysing the role of targeted and personalised interventions from careers services in preparing disabled students for the transition to graduate roles
  • Drawing on evidence and innovations from across the sector to determine what works in driving improvements in employment outcomes

Keren Coney, Member AGCAS Disability Task Group, Careers Adviser, Liverpool John Moores University (CONFIRMED)


11:00

Case Study: Implementing a Holistic Inclusive Learning and Teaching Programme

  • Exploring the University of Leeds’ development of an Inclusive Learning and Teaching Project designed to ensure parity of experience for all students
  • Establishing a set of baseline standards to deliver inclusive teaching with an expectation that teaching materials can be accessed by all students and that courses deliver a range of assessment methods
  • Utilising student feedback and departmental reviews to ensure common practices meet the standards of inclusivity across the institution
  • Implementing an institutional policy on inclusive marking practices

Jenny Brady, Project Lead- Inclusivity, The Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence (LITE), University of Leeds (CONFIRMED)


11:30

Action Points on Teaching: Utilising Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Based on sector-wide research of UDL interventions across higher education, Professor Martin will share findings from a focused study to explore:

  • Examples of institutions successfully planning their course provision around diverse learning needs
  • Practices that are proving effective for students in making learning more accessible and inclusive
  • Clear action points required to improve UDL including institution-wide thinking, communication from teaching staff and new approaches to contact time

Professor Nicola Martin, Head of Research, Higher Degrees and Student Experience, London South Bank University (CONFIRMED)


12:00

Break and Networking Groups


12:20

Closing Keynote: Embedding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion into Higher Education Decision Making and Leadership

  • Improving the diversity of ideas, thinking and lived experiences into the way services are delivered within an institution
  • Assessing how inclusivity and broad student engagement can be embedded within decision making at all levels
  • Discussing how challenges such as discrimination, low levels of disclosures of disability and attainment gaps must be supported by ideas from disabled students and staff facing these obstacles
  • Examining how a culture of equality can be engrained within an institution’s thinking and ways of working

Professor Sarah Sharples, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, University of Nottingham (CONFIRMED)


12:50

Questions and Answers Session


13:00

Chair's Day 2 Summary and Conference Close

*Programme subject to change


There has been a 38% increase in the number of students enrolling at a University in England with a disability since 2013/14. A January 2019 report by the Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) found that 94,120 new students with a disability enrolled in 2017/18, this is an increase of 6,000 from the previous year.

In June 2019, the Universities Minister Chris Skidmore announced the formation of the Disabled Students’ Commission (DSC), which will continue the work of the Disabled Students Sector Leadership Group. The DSC will focus on advising, informing and challenging the higher education sector whilst identifying and promoting practice and approaches to help students with disabilities have a positive university experience. Following this, the Office for Students (OfS) published it’s Beyond the Bare Minimum Brief in October 2019, assessing whether universities are doing enough for disabled students and if they are adopting the Social Model of Disability.

This all follows on from a context in which the OfS has set ambitious targets for universities to eliminate access and participation gaps. In particular, the OfS has called for providers to eliminate the gap in degree outcomes between disabled and non-disabled students. The result will be significant scrutiny of how institutions seek to embed inclusivity for disabled students within their new Access and Participation Plans.

It is therefore vital that higher education institutions ensure they have effective strategies in place to deliver an inclusive teaching and learning environment to support an increased uptake of disabled students entering higher education and to ensure that all disabled students gain equal learning and employment outcomes from their university experience.

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