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Themes: Culture and Participation, Inclusive Educational Technology

Disabled Students Survey brings new insights into the experiences of students across higher education in the UK

Lucy, Snowdon Scholar
Lucy, Snowdon Scholar

A new report from Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) and Snowdon Trust explores disabled student experiences and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on study and learning practices.

Across higher education disabled students often face obstacles in harnessing and maximising their study experience. This report looks at learning experiences and university life, and how access and financial barriers can limit a student’s ability to engage in the full breath of opportunities available to non-disabled peers.

Developed alongside multiple stakeholders, but with a focus on disabled students voices, the report identifies existing challenges, and how these impact learning and outcomes. By understanding the complex and multi-faceted barriers faced by disabled students, opportunities for positive change have been identified.

Of the students surveyed, 87% felt their disability created greater financial challenges than their non-disabled peers and 41% reported they needed additional support to navigate the funding application process.

85% reported greater financial stress during the COVID-19 pandemic and 68% believed there will be inclusivity challenges entering the workplace. 46% scored freshers week 3 or less out of 10 for accessibility.


Six themes across the report highlight key recommendations, ranging from the need for a unified approach to funding, the removal of barriers across accessible accommodation provision and assistive technology.

The report explores the value of streamlined systems and improved communications to reduce the additional burden of administrative tasks for disabled students, and prioritise equitable experiences across social and academic areas.

The survey also addresses the importance of holistic outcomes and tailored support to maximise outcomes and enabling streamline transitions to the workplace. It considers the importance of the individual, and how a more flexible and individualised approach, as evidenced during COVID 19, can lead to stronger outcomes.

The launch webinar

GDI Hub and Snowdon Trust presented the report findings on Thursday 29th April, 1-2pm. The webinar provided an opportunity to hear from the authors and contributors of this important report, as well as guest speakers and disabled students.

About Snowdon and GDI Hub

Snowdon Trust, founded in 1981, provides grants and scholarships to disabled students studying in the UK in higher education and those training for employment.

GDI Hub is a research and practice centre driving disability innovation for a fairer world. Solutions-focused experts in Assistive Technology, Inclusive Design, and Culture and Participation, GDI Hub supports and delivers world-class Research, Teaching, Innovation, Programmes and Advocacy.

Since 2019 the GDI Hub and Snowdon Trust have worked together to deliver the Snowdon Master’s Scholarship programme, funding exceptional disabled students with up to £30,000 towards their studies.

"The thing I would most like you to take away from this, is that there are so many bureaucratic barriers and these bureaucratic barriers form such a substantial, determining part of the disabled student experience”.

Matt, Snowdon Scholar