Universities and disability: 2017-18 draft budget scrutiny


About the Inquiry

Widening access to Scottish universities for disabled people

Page last updated: 2 November 2017

View a BSL version of this video on the Scottish Parliament's YouTube channel.

The Equalities and Human Rights Committee of the Scottish Parliament is considering the Scottish Government’s proposed budget for the financial year 2017 to 2018. Over the course of its work programme, the Committee will consider many issues regarding equality policy and the various protected characteristics set out under the Equality Act 2010, such as age, gender, sexual orientation and so on.

On this occasion the Committee has decided to focus this call for evidence on the experience of disabled people and British Sign Language (BSL) users.

Specifically, we’d like to hear from disabled people and BSL users in Scotland about your experience applying to a Scottish university, or attending a Scottish university. A list of Scotland’s 19 universities is available below.

The Committee would also welcome input from families, carers, groups or organisation which seeks to promote and support the rights of disabled people and BSL users in Scottish society, as well as anyone else with an interest in this issue.


In the current financial year Scottish Government is spending around £640 million of public money supporting Scotland’s 19 universities. In return for this funding, universities agree to deliver on certain policy targets set by the Scottish Government, which the Government believes is important. Public funding is delivered through a government agency known as the Scottish Funding Council.

Each year the Scottish Funding Council reaches an agreement with each of Scotland’s 19 universities on the targets to be met in return for funding. One of these targets is to ensure universities widen access to undergraduate places for people who may otherwise find it difficult to attend a university.

What we need your help with

The call for evidence is now closed. The Committee has received multiple submissions and these are currently being processed for publication on our website shortly.

If you have any questions about the process, please contact the Committee by email at [email protected], or ring 0131 348 5223 or 0131 348 6040, or contact us through the Text Relay service or in BSL through contactscotland-bsl.org.

The Equalities and Human Rights Committee wants to explore whether this policy is working for disabled people and BSL users in Scotland.

The Committee is looking to learn about the experience of disabled people and BSL users in applying to, and/or studying at, one of Scotland’s 19 universities as an undergraduate student.

As a disabled person or BSL user—

Question 1: Tell us about your experience of applying to a Scottish university, whether you gained a place or not? What could be changed about the applications process to ensure equality of opportunity?

Questions 2: If you have studied at a Scottish university as an undergraduate, were there any barriers which stopped you taking full advantage of your time at university, please tell us about them? (for example, access extracurricular activities, using all university facilities, joining student life etc.)

Question 3: If you studied at a Scottish university did you achieve the qualification you wanted? If not, tell us why you think that was (for example, did any barriers hold you back from achieving your full potential etc.)

Question 4: Did studying at a Scottish university help to improve your chances of successfully gaining employment, please tell us about your experience?

Please tell us about of any other comments you feel are relevant to the inquiry.

The call for views is available in PDF format here:

The news release on the call for views is available here: News release on Equality and Human Rights Committee draft budget scrutiny 17 October 2016

The call for views is available in British Sign Language on the Scottish Parliament YouTube channel, and in audio on the Scottish Parliament Soundcloud channel.

The closing date for submitting your views is 6pm on Friday 25 November 2016.

How to engage with us?

Before you send us your views, please see our policy on how we treat the information you send us.

This policy is available in British Sign Language

This policy is available as an MP3 audio file

How to send us your views

You can send us your views, in writing or in video format, by emailing them to [email protected]

You can write to us at:

Equalities and Human Rights Committee

Room T3.40

The Scottish Parliament

Edinburgh EH99 1SP

If you need to contact the Committee

If you have any questions about the process, or wish to discuss the options for making a private or anonymous submission—

You can email the Committee clerks at [email protected]

You can call the Committee clerks on 0131 348 5223 or 0131 348 6040.

We welcome calls using the Text Relay service or in BSL through contactscotland-bsl.org/

For more information on the Committee’s work

You can find us on Twitter: @SP_EHRiC

You can find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/scottishparliament

If you have any general questions you also can also text us on 07786 209 888

You can ask questions online through live chat: www.parliament.scot/live-chat

Scotland’s university sector

Scotland’s has 19 universities. They are:

Aberdeen University Glasgow Caledonian University

Abertay University Glasgow School of Art

Dundee University Glasgow University

Edinburgh Napier University Edinburgh University

Herriot Watt University Queen Margaret University

Robert Gordon University Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

St Andrew’s University SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College

Stirling University Strathclyde University

The Open University of the West of Scotland

University of the Highlands and Islands


The closing date for submitting of views to the Committee was 6pm on Friday 25 November 2016.

The Committee took oral evidence on the draft budget in late November and December 2016 and reported to the Finance and Constitution Committee in January 2017.

The Committee published its report on 23 January 2017 (see below)

The Committee held a follow up oral evidence session to assess progress on the implementation of its recommendations on Thursday 2 November 2017 (see below)


Attached below are the submissions the Committee received in response to its call for evidence.

Full details of all persons making submissions have been provided to the Committee. However, the Committee has received a number of requests where the author asked for their submission to be kept anonymous, or private. The Committee has agreed to these requests.

1 Kiernan, Jennifer 

2 Borlan, Tracey

3 Williams, Claire

4 Anonymous

5 Private

6 Erskine, Angela

7 Anonymous

8 Hutchison, Dr Ian

9 Private

10 Taylor, Mary

11 Woods, Kat

12 Glasgow Caledonian University - Admissions Department

13 Anonymous

14 Coulson, Anna

15 Private

16 SRUC - Scotland’s Rural College - Admissions Department

17 Sisolakova, Tatiana

18 University of Abertay - Admissions Department

19 Watson, Lewis

20 Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - Disability Services

21 Autism Network Scotland

22 Clarke , Vivien

23 Scottish Disability Equality Forum

24 McCrone, Susan

25 Wigley, Laura

26 University of the West of Scotland - Disability Services

27 LEAD Scotland - Linking Education and Disability Scotland 

28 Anonymous

29 Student Representative Council of the University of Glasgow

30 University of Dundee - Disability Services

31 Anonymous

32 Stewart, Johnston

33 University of Edinburgh - Disability Services

34 Heasley, Robert

35 University of the Highlands and Islands - Admissions Department

36 Scarlett, Rebecca

37 University of the Highlands and Islands - Disability Services

38 Universities Scotland

39 University of the West of Scotland - Admissions Department

40 Anonymous

41 Anonymous

42 Ross, Victoria

43 The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

44 The Glasgow School of Art - Disability Services

45 The Glasgow School of Art - Admission Department

46 National Deaf Children's Society

47 University of Edinburgh - Disability Services

48 University of Edinburgh - Admissions Department

49 Heriot-Watt University - Admissions Department

50 Robert Gordon University - Disability Services

51 National Union of Students

52 Shearer, Ann

53 Angell, Sarah

54 Anonymous

55 Ferguson O'Neill, Kayleigh

56 University of St Andrews, Student Association

57 Queen Margaret University - Admissions Department

58 Queen Margaret University - Disability Services

59 University of Aberdeen - Admissions Department

60 University of Strathclyde - Disability Services

61 Edinburgh Napier University - Admissions Department

62 Private

63 Dyslexia Scotland

64 Scottish Funding Council

65 Rogers, Simons



EHRiC Committee 1st Report 2017 (Session 5) Disabilities and Universities (SP Paper 66)

The Committee has published a report on its findings and recommendations from its inquiry into disabled people and BSL users applying to, and studying at, Scottish universities.


Follow-up on Committee Recommendations 

As part of its scrutiny of the 2018/19 Draft Budget, the Committee held a follow up oral evidence session with witnesses on 2 November 2017, to assess the progress in implementing its recommendations. The agenda and written submissions for that meeting, along with the Minutes, Official Report Transcript and Video Log and available here-

EHRiC Committee 2 November 2017 - Video Log Part 1 (with BSL Interoperation)

EHRiC Committee 2 November 2017 - Video Log Part 2 (with BSL Interoperation)



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