The Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost at the University of Worcester has been appointed as one of six new national commissioners to improve support for disabled students.
The Disabled Students' Commission (DSC) will help universities and colleges to remove the barriers preventing disabled students from accessing and succeeding in higher education and having the best possible experience during their studies.
Professor Sarah Greer is one of the six public appointments to lead the Commission, whose activities will include providing recommendations and research that aims to:
- advise, inform and challenge the English higher education sector to improve models of support for disabled students – this includes higher education providers, sector agencies, regulators and the government
- identify and promote effective practice that helps those with disabilities have a positive and successful experience at university
“I’m really pleased to be appointed as a Commissioner,” said Professor Greer. “At the University of Worcester we are passionate about inclusion and supporting students in the best possible way. We have a lot of best practice to share and I am also really keen to learn from others. I hope that the higher education sector will really work together to ensure that students with a disability of any kind don’t feel barred from accessing higher education and that when they come into higher education, they receive the support that they need to help them to achieve and succeed.”
News of Professor Greer’s appointment comes after the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor David Green CBE, was, just last month, the only Vice Chancellor to give evidence to any of the four public evidence sessions of the Higher Education Commission’s ongoing Disabled Students Inquiry.
The University of Worcester has pioneered a whole-university approach to inclusion, which led to Worcester being the number one university for Quality Education and for Gender Equality in the 2019 Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings.
This approach has seen all new facilities at the University designed with the intention of creating a truly inclusive environment. This includes teaching facilities, such as the award-winning University of Worcester Arena, the UK’s first indoor sports arena designed specifically for the needs of disabled athletes and the fully accessible mock courtroom for the University’s law students. It also includes student accommodation: every student residential room built by the University in the 21st Century has been designed to include a wheelchair turning circle and every floor is served by a fully accessible lift. The University has just completed an innovative new townhouse development on its St John’s Campus which will support disabled students who need a carer to live with them on campus.
The University also has excellent support services in place to support disabled students. Its Disability and Dyslexia Service works hard to provide extensive support for students both before they arrive and once they are at university, ensuring that every disabled student joining the University has the best opportunity to get all the information, advice and support they need.
In 2004 Worcester was one of the very first UK universities and colleges to appoint specialist student Mental Health Advisers and Counsellors. A year later the University in-sourced Security and has since transformed it into a 24/7 student and community safety and support service, which is integrated with other services. In 2013 the University launched its Suicide Safer initiative, which quickly earned recognition as a very best practice example nationally whilst inspiring new national guidance and practice in this most important area.
In 2019 then Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore, said: “Universities like Brunel and Worcester have long been leading the way in improving the disabled student experience, by enhancing support services available to them and designing facilities with accessibility in mind. I want institutions like these to no longer be the exception, but the norm.”
For more information about the Disabled Students’ Commission visit https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/news-blog-and-events/press-and-media/new-independent-commission-aims-to-boost-support-for-disabled-students/