Reports & Findings

Here you will find a list of research published by Disabled Students UK into the experiences of disabled students within the UK, as well as other key findings from the Higher Education sector.

Research published by DSUK

The Access Insights 2023 Report

Disabled Students UK, 2023

The Access Insights 2023 Report has been created by our research team from the findings of the Annual Disabled Student Survey. Over 1300 disabled students shared their experience with Disabled Students UK from 90 universities in the first year of running the survey, making it the largest survey of its kind. The report also includes information gained through freedom of information requests sent to universities.

Improving the experience of disabled PhD students in STEM

Disabled Students UK & Pete Quinn Consulting Ltd, 2023

A new report investigates the experiences of disabled postgraduate research (PGR) students, a previously understudied group that has increased in size by more than 50% in the last 5 years, today making up 20% of PGR home students. The report, which focuses especially on STEM students working in the life sciences, was created in collaboration between Disabled Students UK, Pete Quinn Consulting and the BBSRC funded Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership.

Going Back is Not a Choice

Disabled Students UK, 2022

A year into the pandemic, Disabled Students UK sent out a survey asking disabled students about their experiences of Higher Education during this period. We gathered the voices of more than 300 students – painting a picture of a tumultuous time. We asked students: “What lessons do you hope that your university learns from the pandemic to become more accessible moving forward?” . From those answers we created the report Going Back is Not a Choice – Accessibility Lessons for Higher Education.

Impact of the Pandemic on Disabled Students and Recommended Measures

Disabled Students UK, 2020

In April-May 2020, several reports have surfaced which provide insight into disabled students’ struggles in accessing higher education during the pandemic. In this report, we brought these findings together to highlight the issues experienced by disabled students and suggested ways forward.

Major Findings in the sector

Disabled Students’ Commission Report
Disabled Students’ Commission, 2022

Arriving At Thriving: Learning from disabled students to ensure access for all
Policy Connect and the Higher Education Commission, 2020

This report follows a six-month inquiry, chaired by Lord David Blunkett; Kathryn Mitchell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Derby; and Lord Philip Norton, Chair of the Higher Education Commission. The inquiry listened closely to students, with evidence gathered from over 500 disabled students, from senior figures at a number of higher education providers, and charity representatives across the country.

The report demonstrates clear room for improvement within higher education, and lays out 12 recommendations for government and the sector to ensure the experiences of disabled students can be improved.

Disability Discrimination faced by UCL students and Recommended Measures
UCL Disabled Students’ Network, 2020

Via this link you will find the report, a short summary of the report and 4 report appendices:

“During November and December 2019 the UCL disabled Students’ Network conducted a survey of Disabled Students’ experience at UCL. In their report, they explain what UCL’s responsibilities are, and by presenting the testimonies they received they show in what ways students are not being given equal access, who is responsible in each instance, and how to create change. The report also provides UCL with examples of positive steps to take and the benefits of doing so, sharing a number of useful tools such as building on UCL’s own resources and examples of best-practice from other universities.”

Review of Support for Disabled Students in Higher Education in England
The Institute for Employment Studies and Researching Equity, Access and Participation, 2019

View the report
“This report presents findings from the first phase of a two-part study to review the levels of support for disabled students across the higher education (HE) sector in 2016/17 and the progress made by providers towards an inclusive social model of support.” “The study involved an online survey of 137 providers in receipt of Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) additional funding to develop inclusive teaching approaches to support disabled students; and in-depth case studies with 13 providers which gathered detailed insights and feedback from 59 individuals in various roles (including both staff and student representatives).”

Brief from Office For Students

Substantial disadvantage – Reviewing the Implementation of Disabled Students’ Academic Adjustments at the University of Cambridge
Cambridge University’s Student Union, 2018

View the report
“We began our data collection for this report with the hope of discovering weak and strong areas of practice in the current Cambridge system, aiming to find out what works and what doesn’t, enabling us to share best practice. Although experiences vary significantly, we have in fact had to draw far more general conclusions. The ‘substantial disadvantage’ referenced in the title of this report is not only a reference to regulations but also an accurate description of the current situation in which disabled students at the University of Cambridge are studying.”

“We need to give “special consideration” some special consideration”

Independent Adjudicator Felicity Mitchell via WonkHE, 2020

View the report

“How should universities handle requests for “special consideration”. Independent Adjudicator Felicity Mitchell on a new best practice consultation.”

Findings & Insights


Student Experience



Articles citing DSUK

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