Aims, Obligations and Using the Framework

Aims, Obligations and Using the Framework

Framework Aims and Obligations

The University aims through the Inclusivity and Accessibility in Education Framework to enable inclusion and accessibility to be fully integrated into all aspects of design and delivery of learning, teaching and assessment at the University. 

Aims of the Inclusivity and Accessibility Framework

The University aims through the Inclusivity and Accessibility in Education Framework aims to enable inclusion and accessibility to be fully integrated into all aspects of the design and delivery of learning, teaching and assessment at the University. A wide approach is taken to this, including when they form part of the application process and the transition from school or college to the University (e.g., summer schools) and activities to assist in the development and delivery of teaching, learning and assessment are also covered as are co-curricular activities and placements. The Framework aims to ensure the continuation of challenging debate, professional autonomy and academic freedom. Students are also encouraged to have regard for inclusion and accessibility when engaging with other students and with staff.

More information on the University's Commitments and Obligations
  • The Sustainable Development Goals Accord.  
  • The University’s legal obligations in respect of accessibility and inclusion, including the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, requires universities to make all new learning material published on Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) accessible.  From September 2020, this also includes having closed captions (CC) on pre-recorded video material.  
  • The University is also required to publish an accessibility statement online (available on the footer of the University website) which outlines what is accessible and what may be less accessible. This will be a working document that will be updated to reflect progress made towards digital accessibility. JISC have published guidance for universities. 
  • The University’s obligations under the UK Quality Code for Higher Education regarding treating students with fairness, dignity, and respect. 
  • The University’s accreditation through Disability Confident and Athena Swan, and its signing of the Advance HE Race Equality Charter and it being a Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion.  
  • The University’s active engagement with the higher education sector (e.g. JISC, Advance HE, Universities UK, QAA), with industry (e.g. Blackboard, Panopto, AI Media) and with relevant networks (e.g. Association of Learning Technology, Scottish Heads of Disability Services, AbilityNet) to drive delivery of inclusion and accessibility. 
  • The University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy of 2019.
  • The University's Policy and Guidance on Religion and Belief for Students.
Scope of the Framework and Groups Covered

In addition to its obligations under the Equality Act 2010, the University seeks to ensure that no staff or student is discriminated against, directly or indirectly or disadvantaged based on an unfair distinction. The Inclusivity and Accessibility in Education Framework covers the following list of characteristics, status, or experiences which the University has chosen to commit to protecting, for example through the University Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy, commitments to pledges, representation on the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee or are part of the University’s approach to widening access in recruitment.      

  • Parent  
  • Socio-economic background
  • Trade union membership   
  • Carer   
  • Care experienced 
  • Estranged from family  
  • Parent has custodial sentence 
  • Veterans and having veteran as parent 
  • Refugees and asylum seekers    
  • Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showmen Boaters (note: Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers have been identified as covered by the race characteristic protection in the Equality Act 2010). 

There is no hierarchy between any of these characteristics and action should be taken to mitigate against the negative effects of intersectionality, where appropriate. If a student has chosen to share with the University that they are care experienced, estranged from family, a veteran, and/or a carer, refugee or asylum seeker, and if they are from a SIMD 20 or 40 postcode, details of this will have been shared with their personal tutor and with the School Education Lead. If a student has shared a disability, this will not have been shared with personal tutors or members of academic staff, however details of provisions put in place will be shared with School Disability Coordinators who will pass these provisions on to relevant School colleagues. Note that this will include details of the provision (such as extra time), rather than the reason for it. This is consistent with our terms and conditions, Privacy Notice and the fact that each experience of a particular need or condition is different. Students are aware of this. Students are encouraged to share details of their position and to self advocate, however, whether they choose to do so is a point for them.

How the Framework can be Used

The Framework can be used in the following ways. Further support for staff can be found in ‘Tools and Resources.

Suggestions for Schools and Directorates
  • Having inclusivity and accessibility as a standing agenda item at meetings and at staff-student liaison committees.  

  • Carrying out annual inclusivity and accessibility reflections for learning and teaching related activities such as for new course proposals, annual course reviews and annual programme reviews. Schools may find it useful to include this in the work of School Student Support Committees and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committees, depending on the school’s structure.  

  • Schools are encouraged to ensure that good practice and challenges are shared with the Student Support Committee, as well as among themselves.

The chart below illustrates this.

Suggestions for Schools and Directorates Chart

Reasonable Adjustments

In situations where inclusivity and accessibility cannot be directly assured, reasonable adjustments will need to be provided on an objective basis, taking all factors into account. In some rare cases, the adjustment which would be needed for the student to take part would go beyond what is reasonable - these adjustments would not be imposed. It is important that such issues can be identified as soon as possible. Questions of what is reasonable will be explored between the Disability Team, the course coordinator and as appropriate, the Head of Student Support and the Dean for Student Support.

It is important to note that the need for reasonableness does not remove the need to explore change and new approaches. Please see the section on 'Sharing What Will Happen at a Practical Level'  in Sharing Examples for more details on new approaches. Reasonable adjustment can be required in light of disability, for which formal systems are in place and also in the light of the other characteristics listed. To assist in this, students will continue to be encouraged (including before arrival) to share details of disabilities and to engage as soon as possible in processes for financial support (when available) and for assessment of their needs and adjustments to be put in place. Details of the provisions will be shared with School Disability Coordinators who will pass these on to relevant School colleagues. Note that this will include details of the provision (such as extra time), rather than the reason for it. This is consistent with our terms and conditions, Privacy Notice and the fact that each experience of a particular need or condition is different. Students are aware of this. Students are encouraged to share details of their position and to self advocate, however, whether they choose to do so is a point for them.

Note that there is also scope for reasonable adjustments to be the provision for an inclusive measure. The following is an example of the position taken by a School to the provision of "no penalty for poor spelling/grammar where meaning is clear" - "The papers are double blind marked, meaning that the matriculation number is hidden behind a further three digit anonymising number. Further to this, in terms of the marking scheme, there is a policy of no detriment in respect of a penalty deduction for spelling or grammar. This is due to the fact that several student have this Disability Provision, and we are unable to identify them individually." It is recognised that this approach will not be appropriate for all courses or assessments.