Disability service praised for its commitment to student support

Published: Fri 24 Jun 2016
Disability service praised for its commitment to student support

A University of Bradford team dedicated to supporting its students has been awarded a prestigious Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards.

The University's disability service came out on top last night (23 June) in the Outstanding Student Services Team category for its commitment to inclusion and to promoting the success of students who for a range of reasons might experience disadvantage.  The team have continued to use innovation to improve the service and was one of the first Universities to recognise that many students with specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) may not be diagnosed at school, and that late diagnosis at University can mean students do not receive the support they need.

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This was a well-put-together entry focusing on an issue which is a concern right across the sector,” the judges said.

“The winning team demonstrated an impressive level of service integration and efficiency, with improved student services at the heart. The winning entry directly addresses a key current challenge and we are sure the solution offered will be of considerable interest to student services teams throughout higher education.”

In 2000 the team introduced University wide screening to identify students with previously undiagnosed SpLDs (including dyslexia).  Students showing indicators of SpLD were then invited to a pre-assessment interview and finally, where required were referred to an Educational Psychologist for formal assessment. 

In 2013/14, the team built on this to develop an on-line screening system, to form part of the pre-enrolment process.  In 2014/15 this was embedded in the Pre-Enrolment Portal.   Students are now invited to complete the questionnaire as an integral part of enrolment. This enables an earlier SpLD diagnosis and ensures that more disabled student’s adjustments are communicated to the wider University.

A parallel innovation requiring collaboration between Disability Services and the University IT Team to develop and embed the LSP within the Student Information System (SITS) and eVision has further streamlined the process for ensuring disabled student’s needs are met. 

Helena Jones, Head of Disability at the University of Bradford, said: “Bradford's approach is student centred and we take a pro-active and anticipatory approach to supporting disabled students. We believe that the earlier a student can get the right support, the more likely they are to succeed, and we’re very proud to be one of those leading the way in student support.

“It’s fantastic that all the hard work of the team’s involved has been recognised and we’re delighted to have won such a prestigious award.”

Involved in developing the electronic LSP were Stuart Walker and Lawrence Gains from IT. 

The awards (affectionately known as the THELMAs) are now in their eighth year and shine a spotlight on the teams who work in the engine rooms of our institutions, guide them through challenging terrain and lay the foundations for future success. 

The winners were revealed at the gala awards evening at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on Thursday 23 June 2016.

 

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