Recent articles by the Times and the Telegraph have highlighted an increase in the number of students receiving adjustments in their studies due to mental health difficulties. Dan Doran, UMHAN Chair, and Lisa Brooks-Lewis, Committee Member, respond and share their expertise in setting reasonable adjustments.
This means Universities are now more aware of their students' needs and how to aid their retention and progression in their studies. Around 1.1% of students disclose a mental health difficulty (Equality Challenge Unit, 2014).
These adjustments should mean fewer potential negative consequences of having a psychiatric disability, such as fewer drop-out rates, less financial burden as a consequence of having a disability, and assessment methods that assess the knowledge and skills of students with mental health problems rather than the effects of mental health problems on performance in specific contexts.
For a student with mental ill health it is not optional as to whether adjustments are considered or not. It is a requirement by law of the Equality Act 2010.
Where a need is identified, it is the responsibility of the institution to justify why an adjustment cannot be made. Adjustments relating to exams, such as extra time, may benefit a student who is, for example, struggling with memory and concentration due to clinical depression. However there are a range of reasonable adjustments that may be appropriate within higher education. UMHAN's Exams Policy Position highlights these.