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AMOSSHE Insight: international approaches to disabled student support

This project, undertaken by the University of Worcester, explores the different models of support offered by international higher education providers to students with support needs based on their disability or medical condition.

Principal investigator: Patrick Clark, Specialist Learning Support Service Manager, University of Worcester.

University of WorcesterTotal award from AMOSSHE: £3,483.


At a time of considerable change in student finance arrangements for disabled students, higher education providers in England are looking at the pros and cons of different delivery models, the costs involved and how and where to best implement changes. There is considerable best practice and innovation nationally, and this is helpful in informing this process.

However, as the majority of higher education providers in England operate within the existing funding regime for disability support, delivered through Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs), it is difficult to gain a clear understanding of the full range of alternative solutions to funding and delivering this support. In addition, there is no review of the literature addressing these approaches both internationally and in the UK.

This project aims to draw on the experience of higher education providers in other countries who share a commitment to enabling success for disabled students whilst operating within different financial and policy environments.


Here's the complete project report (PDF 1.7 MB)

AMOSSHE Insight report (opens in a new window)

Aims and objectives

Using the University of Worcester’s existing contacts with over 39 higher education institutions internationally, the project team will look at the different models of support offered by these institutions to students with a range of support needs based on their disability or medical condition.

The research will focus on those elements of support that are most topical for English higher education providers dues to changes in DSA funding. These are:

  • In-class support for students with a disability (including note-taking / lecture capture).
  • Assistive and other technology to support disabled students in class and examination situations.
  • Specialist academic support for students who require additional support (including, but not exclusive to, the one-to-one academic support currently funded through DSA).

The aim is to map the different models of disability support and assess the respective strengths and weaknesses of these in the light of feedback from disability support staff in the institutions and from students.



The project team will conduct a literature review of existing relevant studies, a web search and survey of international partner institutions, and in-depth interviews / focus groups with University of Worcester students who have experienced both models of support.

In addition to this research, members of the project team aim to undertake a study visit to a partner institution abroad to explore first hand how disability support is delivered by a higher education provider operating in a different cultural, funding and regulatory environment. The study team will aim to capture the views of students and staff involved in the identification and delivery of support for disabled students.


Intended outputs

The project team will produce a report detailing their research findings and evaluation of the different methods of support. Also, the team will produce case studies of the disability support available in a range of different higher education institutions.


AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation is a UK non-profit professional association. Company registration number 4778650.
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