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Student Mental Health - CS031801

An LLB student had been diagnosed with depression, general anxiety disorder, social anxiety which prevented her from leaving her house.

One of the adjustments recommended in her support plan was the use of a note-taker in workshops. The provider initially refused the student’s request for a note-taker to attend workshops in her absence. It stated that attendance was key to the learning on the programme. Instead it offered the student access to an online programme starting the following academic year. The student appealed this decision as she did not want to pursue the online programme. The appeal was rejected. The panel noted that the participatory nature of the workshop sessions meant that attendance was necessary and felt that a note-taker could not provide useful notes from the session, the effectiveness of which was dependant on the students’ participation. The provider was concerned about the impact a note-taker would have on the student’s engagement with the course and the impact on possible outcomes of assessments. The student complained to us.

We concluded that this decision was not reasonable. The evidence did not suggest that the provider properly considered its obligations under the Equality Act, in particular whether the attendance requirement placed the student at a substantial disadvantage because of her disability and, if so, what could be done to prevent the disadvantage. Further, we were not persuaded that the documentation showed that the provider considered or established whether attendance at a workshop was a competence standard.

We found the complaint Justified and we recommended the provider offer to reconsider the appeal.

The provider accepted that alternative provision should have been considered. It proposed an alternative remedy and offered a technological solution (iPad FaceTime) in order to allow the student to attend virtually when unwell. A note-taker would be allowed to attend and take additional notes and manage the iPad. The student accepted the offer.