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ERIC Number: EJ1117625
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0141-9072
Widening Access to Higher Education for Disabled Students: The Intersection of Socio-Economic Background and Impairment
Weedon, Elisabet
Scottish Educational Review, v48 n1 p63-77 2016
The proportion of disabled students in higher education across the UK has increased over the last 20 years as a result of equalities legislation and widening access measures promoted by the Scottish Government. For monitoring and reporting purposes, disabled students have often been treated as a homogeneous group. Drawing on an analysis of administrative data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), as well as student case studies, this paper identifies important within-group differences, questioning whether certain sub-groups of disabled students have benefitted from systemic expansion more than others. The main finding of the paper is that the increase in participation by disabled students mainly reflects the growth in the number of those with specific learning difficulties, who are disproportionately drawn from middle class backgrounds. By way of contrast, there has been only a very small increase in the proportion of disabled students from less advantaged backgrounds and with severe low incidence disabilities. Despite the fact that disabled students tend to be from more advantaged backgrounds than others, the case studies illustrate the types of barriers they encounter, which may be compounded by socio-economic disadvantage. The paper concludes by suggesting that, in the future, regulatory regimes might encourage institutions to undertake a more fine-grained analysis of the participation of disabled students in higher education, taking account of both type of impairment and social class background.
Scottish Educational Review. School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ, Scotland, UK. e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A