Occasionally there is disagreement between academic Colleges/Schools, Professional Services teams and students over what the most appropriate form of support is and what reasonable adjustments are required to ensure students can access their learning. To ensure these professional disagreements are swiftly resolved and students are not adversely affected, the University has established a process for identifying and resolving issues. It should be noted that it is rare that an agreed outcome cannot be reached between the Student Support Services staff and Colleges/Schools in the first instance. Wherever possible, Student Support Services Caseworkers and Managers will seek to engage with Colleges/Schools, through the Disability Link Tutors/Co-ordinators in the first instances, to resolve any issues with the College/School before the Mediation and Resolution process is applied.Identification and Communication of Support Needs
Student support needs are generally identified and communicated to Colleges/Schools by Student Support Services staff early in each academic session. However, there are increasingly occurrences when students report to Student Services late in the year, particularly around assessment periods, and require academic support. In general, students who require support fall within the remit of the Disability Office and Student Wellbeing Service, who will provide Colleges/Schools with detailed information on student support needs as swiftly as possible upon identification. There are, therefore, two possible methods of need identification and communication with Colleges/Schools:
Student Support Needs Identification Route 1 (standard)
The student will present to Student Support Services for assessment. Once the student’s needs have been assessed, a Disability/Wellbeing proforma outlining recommended support requirements is circulated to the relevant College(s)/School(s) via the Disability Link Tutor(s)/Co-ordinator(s). Following this communication, the Link Tutor/Co-ordinator should communicate the student’s support needs to relevant academic and administrative staff. Relevant staff should meet with each student (plus the students’ caseworker or other appropriate representative, such as Personal Tutor, if required) to discuss the student’s individual needs and agree a support plan.
Student Support Needs Identification Route 2
Where students present late to Student Support Services, the student’s specific needs change, or a student had particularly pressing or complex needs, the Student Support Services Caseworker will contact the College/School Disability Link Tutor/Co-ordinator and relevant academic staff involved in teaching delivery and assessment for the student concerned directly. The College/School should agree a support package with the student concerned, following the advice provided by the needs assessment. In some cases it may not be possible for support to be provided immediately, and students in this situation should be supported to apply for extenuating circumstances for assessment using the standard process.
Confirmation of Inclusive Assessment Provision Form
Following the identification of support requirements, the College/School Disability Link Tutor/Co-ordinator, in liaison with the relevant programme director(s) or module coordinator(s) (as appropriate), and the student in question should discuss and outline the support provisions that will be made available for the student. The student may invite a Student Support Services Caseworker or other appropriate representative (e.g. Academic Mentor) to attend any meetings to provide support and advice. For cases where alternative assessment provision is recommended, the Link Tutor/Co-ordinator should then complete and return a Confirmation of Inclusive Assessment Provision form, detailing what steps have been taken to make appropriate reasonable adjustments, which should be approved by the Head of Department.
Where Colleges/Schools agree to implement the recommended provision(s) to the satisfaction of the student and Student Support Services, no further action is required.
Where Colleges/Schools feel that they cannot support the recommended provisions, a clear rationale for this should be provided on the Confirmation of Inclusive Assessment Provision form. This rationale will NOT be the final decision, but will provide the Subject Area’s point of view in the decision making process. As noted, all response forms must be approved by the relevant Head of Department.
College/School Disability Link Tutors/Co-ordinators and Student Support Services staff should ensure that there is consistent application of support provisions across all modules and programmes within the College/School, and monitor any developments.
Mediation and Resolution
Where the Module Co-ordinator/Programme Director, student and Student Support Services cannot agree on a support plan, the following mediation and resolution process will apply:
- College/School Level Resolution Process
Where a Subject Area chooses not to implement any recommended support provisions for students following full discussions between the student, College/School staff and Student Support Services caseworkers and no agreement can be reached, the following College/School Level Resolution process will be followed in the first instance
- Review by Director of Learning and Teaching (or Director of Research for PGR students)
In the first instance, cases should be reviewed to the Director of Learning and Teaching or Director of Research by the Disability Link Co-ordinator, in consultation with the Disability/Wellbeing Manager. The Director of Learning and Teaching (or Research for PGR students) should review the rationale provided on the Confirmation of Inclusive Assessment Provision form with the Disability Link Tutor/Co-ordinator and, in consultation with the Subject Area, student(s) and Student Support Services, decide whether the rationale is valid, providing any additional information required by Student Support Services.
- Review by College/School Inclusive Learning, Teaching and Assessment Review Panel
If agreement still cannot be reached following review by the Director of Learning and Teaching, the case will be referred to a specially convened expert panel consisting of the College/School Disability Link Co-ordinator, trained academics from across the College (representing each subject area), student support staff and student representative(s) (College/School or Students’ Union Representative as appropriate), which will be chaired by the College/School’s Director of Learning and Teaching. This Panel will be charged with reviewing the case and making a recommendation for support requirements which meet the needs of the student, and are in line with any professional body requirements and competency standards. The Panel can co-opt members from relevant Professional Services Departments (e.g. Disability Office, Wellbeing, Academic Services) to provide specific advice.
- University Level: Resolution Process
Where a Subject Area chooses not to implement any recommended support provisions for students following full discussions between the student, College/School staff and Student Support Services caseworkers and completion of the College/School Level Resolution Process, and no agreement can be reached, the University will use the following process to swiftly bring the matter to a conclusion:
- Inclusive Learning, Teaching and Assessment Review Panel
Where any cases cannot be resolved within the College, they will be referred to an independent University Panel by the Director of Learning and Teaching, in consultation with relevant experts from Student Support services, to be chaired by the Director of SALT or SAILS, with members drawn from the Academic Disability Link Co-ordinators, SALT or SAILS leads and relevant experts from Professional Services departments (including Disability Office and Wellbeing Services) from across the University, along with student representation from the Students’ Union. The Review Panel’s decision will be final. If a student wishes to appeal the Review Panel’s decision, they must use the standard complaints and appeals process.
- Arbitration: Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic)
Where the Committee cannot reach a decision, the Chair of the University’s Inclusive Learning, Teaching and Assessment Review Panel will refer case to the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic) for arbitration. The Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic) will have the final decision, with appropriate expert advice from academic and support staff as required.
Where there is urgency and/or in extraordinary circumstances where delay may significantly impact on the student experience, an executive decision may be taken by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic), with support and advice from the Director of SALT/SAILS and relevant members of the University’s Inclusive Learning, Teaching and Assessment Review Panel, where required. All requests for executive action must be made by the College/School Director of Learning and Teaching or Director of Research to the Chair of the University Review Panel.
To minimise impact to the students, in normal circumstances a decision should take no longer than 2 weeks from the issue being raised to the Director of Learning and Teaching or Director of Research. However, it should be noted that the need to consult with Professional or Regulatory Bodies or External Examiners may delay the process slightly.