1.2.4: Admissions Procedures for Students with Special Needs (Postgraduate)
It is University policy to regard academic standards as the main criteria in the consideration of all applicants, including applicants with special needs. Disabled students (and applicants) in general, do not wish to make an issue of their disability. However, the University is committed to compliance with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, implemented in September 2002, and therefore we should ensure that every applicant registering a disability is treated fairly and without discrimination or disadvantage due to their disability, medical or mental health condition. It is therefore vitally important that staff involved in postgraduate admissions at either departmental or college level act at all times to ensure that no student or applicant is disadvantaged because of their disability and that all reasonable steps are taken to provide any support necessary in conjunction with the Durham University Service for Students with Disabilities (DUSSD).
Details of all applicants to the University who indicate medical conditions or a disability requiring special arrangements are passed to DUSSD. DUSSD send an initial letter to the student. The application is sent to the department for consideration as normal and an admissions decision is reached according to the normal entry criteria for the programme in question.
If the applicant is to be made an offer, the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office will issue an offer as normal. Independently, DUSSD will contact the applicant in order to discuss the their requirements for support and establish whether the University can provide reasonable support.
If an applicant is to be rejected, the department should notify the student of this decision as normal. The Student Recruitment and Admissions Office will periodically identify all applicants who stated a disability on their application and were subsequently rejected to seek a reason for the decision from the department. This is part of the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office's standard monitoring procedures and not a check on any individual department or application.
Points to note:
1. Some applicants choose not to declare their disability officially in their application. However, it should be noted that on occasions an applicant's statement or reference makes some relevant comment about possible special needs where no such needs have been declared formally, meaning that the application will not have been passed to DUSSD. Admissions staff in departments and colleges should be on the look-out for such factors, and inform the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office in such cases so that the necessary action can be taken.
2. It is very important that a member of staff interviewing a disabled applicant should be aware of the situation and is a sympathetic and good communicator. A disabled applicant, or someone with more profound difficulties, may feel more nervous and awkward than most and needs time to adjust to a new face and voice before a serious discussion can take place. Advice can be given on this by DUSSD.
3. It is advisable that good records are made of interviews in case the rare but occasional situation arises where an applicant is not made the offer expected and subsequently claims discrimination by the University. This is a matter of good practice and is not specific for applicants with disabilities.