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Disability and ill-health: Responsibility on universities to document how they have supported students with disabilities - PI091409

University College London

In considering issues related to discrimination we do not act as a court. We don't investigate or make legal findings in the same manner as a court. However, we do refer to the law and guidance on discrimination to form an opinion as to good practice and to decide whether the University has acted fairly.

We consider that when a University becomes aware that a student may have a disability, it should ask itself the following questions:

  • Is the student disabled?
  • If so, what provisions are we now applying to them?
  • Do those provisions place them at a substantial disadvantage?
  • What could be done to prevent that disadvantage?
  • Would it be reasonable for us to take those steps?

We found a case Justified where a student at University College London was removed from the course for poor attendance against the terms of his Learning Agreement. At that stage the student presented medical evidence of depressive illness. The University could not demonstrate that, once it was made aware of the diagnosis, it looked at whether illness might have contributed to the student’s poor attendance or whether its processes had put the student at a disadvantage. We recommended financial compensation to the student for distress and recommended that the University rehear his grievance.