Avoiding discrimination: Disabled students

Advice and Guidance

Who is this page for?

  • Public sector

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You may need to make reasonable adjustments for disabled students to the process by which competence is assessed, such as providing readers, interpreters, amanuenses, rest breaks, extra time, assistants, flexible deadlines or alternative assessment methods. The Disabled Students Allowance for students in higher education can cover the funding of a helper or an item of equipment for assessment or exams but it is your responsibility to cover the cost of flexible exam arrangements and to provide materials in accessible formats. More information about the scope of the Disabled Students Allowance can be found on the GOV.UK website. Discussion with the students themselves is vital to ensure the most appropriate adjustments are made, although students may not be aware of all the adjustments that could be put in place.

Such adjustments are not intended to compromise the qualification itself. You are entitled to differentiate between students when assessing or examining them. However, the standards by which you judge performance must be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

You are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to your assessment methods, although not to the application of the particular academic, medical or other standard you are applying to determine whether or not the students have a particular level of competence or ability. Such a standard is known as a competence standard.

For example:

A student, with a condition similar to epilepsy that was triggered by stress, became particularly stressed around exam time, which aggravated his condition. The university department agreed to provide him with a reasonable adjustment to their assessment methods in the form of a 'seen' exam, which helped to reduce his stress over the exam periods.

Last updated: 19 Feb 2019

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

Also available through the website are BSL interpretation, web chat services and a contact us form.


Opening hours:

9am to 7pm Monday to Friday
10am to 2pm Saturday
closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.