Warwick Uni denied a dyslexic student extra time as it would give them an ‘unfair advantage’

‘The university are failing disabled students’


A dyslexic Warwick student claims the Department of Life Sciences denied them reasonable adjustments that are normally available for end-of-year assessments.

In a meeting, the student was told the extra time would give them an “unfair advantage” as assessments are not the same as exams.

The student is dyslexic and requires more time with reading. Normally, disabled students are usually entitled to reasonable adjustments – that is, longer exam time, easier marking, their own space for in-person exams, breaks, using a computer etc.

The student initially reached out to the university for “reasonable adjustments” in the form of extra time to support their disability, but was told by their home department that they were “unable to provide reasonable adjustments for final year” assessments.

The student explained: “Disabled students are entitled to reasonable adjustments as per the university’s policy. Final year examinations are an important time in our lives as they are the result of us overcoming our own hurdles.

“Being told that the reasonable adjustments we’re entitled to are not applicable during one of the most stressful periods of their lives is absolutely unacceptable”.

They continued: “The university should be aware that they’re failing disabled students who chose to apply to this uni after hearing how inclusive Warwick is regarding disabilities.”

According to the uni’s Wellbeing Support Services, students are encouraged to meet with a Disability Advisor to discuss what reasonable adjustments will help them to engage more fully with their course. These adjustments are considered on an individual basis, and are evidence-based.

The Uni’s policy on Reasonable Adjustments for disabled students

However, the disabled student claims: “My department (Life Sciences) have told us disabled students that they’re unable to provide adjustments for our final year assessments. We asked for extra time in the form of a one week extension.”

These final year assessments, the student explained, are pieces of coursework to be completed within a certain time frame: “We’re given six to ten essays at once and have four weeks to complete all of them”.

However, the request was denied, with the student claiming: “A meeting basically confirmed that this is how it’s going to be for the final exams. It’s already set in stone but they did mention filling out feedback after taking the exams.

“Me and other disabled students are not satisfied with the department over this.”

The unhappy students have appealed by writing emails and attending meetings where the situation was discussed.

A disabled student group chat was made to discuss a list of demands such as extra time for final year essays.

The student also emailed their Course Director to directly appeal the change, asking if there were any reasonable adjustments they could qualify for, such as extra time.

The email of the disabled student to the their course director

However, they received a reply stating extra time could only be given on exams, and as these assessments are not exams “there is an excess amount of time available” in which to complete them.

The response of the Course Director

The student vented their frustration at the university’s decision over Twitter, and at the time of writing, the tweet had gathered over 9,800 likes and 950 retweets. 

A spokesperson for the University of Warwick said: “The assessments for third year students have been designed to be as inclusive as possible, removing many of the problems that can arise when students sit exams, and students have previously expressed a preference for these assessments over exams. Thus, the School of Life Sciences is, for the third consecutive year, using open-book assessments instead of exams in year three.”

They continued: “We cannot extend the end-of-year assessments because we would not have all the marks available for the exam board, which would mean students not being able to graduate in the summer. Students that suffer with any problem during the assessment period can always apply for mitigating circumstances and we are happy to talk to our students, hear their feedback and answer their questions as always. We encourage any students suffering any difficulties to get in touch with their tutor or senior tutor.”

Following the publication of this piece, the student has confirmed the department of Life Sciences is now engaging in productive talks with disabled students to improve assessment strategy.

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