Higher Education and the Experiences of Students with a Diagnosis of Dyslexia Sheila Riddell,Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity, University of Edinburgh www.creid.ed.ac.uk
Central questions What progress has been made by students with dyslexia in accessing higher education? What are the experiences of students with dyslexia in higher education and how do they fare in the labour market? What are the future challenges for students with dyslexia in higher education?
Proportion of disabled students in highereducation has almost trebled since 1994– now c.9% of total UG population in receipt of DSA Number and % of disabled students in higher education Year Number of students Number of disabled students Percentage (in brackets FT) 1994 - 95 323011 (273586) 11162 (9719) 3.5% 2004-05 379150 (320865) 26085 (22890) 7%
Policy drivers Campaigns by individual disabled people & Skill (now defunct) Funding Mechanisms - Disabled Students Allowance & Premium Funding Extension of DDA to education in 2001 Public sector duty to promote disability equality Quality agenda
Students with dyslexia make up majority of disabled student population Type of 1994-95 2004/05 disability Dyslexia 15% 50% Blind/partially sighted 4% 2.4% Deaf/hard of hearing 6% 4% Wheelchair/mobility 6% 2.8% difficulties Personal care support 0.1% 0.1% Mental health 2% 4.6% difficulties Unseen disability 53% 17% Multiple disabilities 5% 7.5% Other disability 10% 10.5% Autistic spectrum - 0.7% disorder– fall in proportion with physical/sensory impairments & increase in dyslexia
Over recent years, further growth in dyslexic students as % of disabled student population (currently 56%)Number of undergraduate first year students with Specific Learning Difficulty, 2010-2011Full-time Specific learning Total known to have a Total number of difficulty disability studentsFemale 11,410 21,290 233,540Male 10,655 18,210 189,405Total FT 22,065 39,505 422,950Part-time 3,420 13,070 182,585Female 1,950 7,540 99,850Male 5,370 20605 282,440Total 27,435 60,110 705,385Full-time first year undergraduate students with a specific learning difficulty as a percentageof those known to have a disability and total student population, by gender, 2010-2011 % of those known to have a disability % of total UG populationFemale 53.6 4.9Male 58.5 5.6Total FT 55.9 5.2
Pupils from poorer backgrounds much less likely to go to university-80% of students at pre-92 universities from middle class backgrounds;19% from working class backgrounds – similar pattern for disabled and non-disabled students Source: Riddell et al 2005 First year, full-time, UK domiciled undergraduates (Scotland and England) by disability, social class and type of institution, 2001 Post92 Non-university HEIs Pre92 N No Known All No known Known All No known Known All known disability 70529 disability disability 42964 disability disability 1689 disability 2816 40691 2273 15850 1046 6 67713 Professional 21 22 21 11 13 11 10 13 11 Managerial, 47 48 47 41 41 41 43 47 43 Technical Skilled-non manual 12 12 12 15 15 15 15 15 15 Skilled-manual 12 12 12 20 17 19 19 15 19 Partly skilled 6 6 6 11 11 11 10 9 10 Unskilled 1 1 1 3 3 3 2 2 2
But pupils from poorer backgrounds much more likely to be identified as having additional support needs/SEN Percentage of pupils with ASN by deprivation category 10 8 % with ASN 6 4 2 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 SIMD decileFigures include pupils recorded as having RoN, CSP and/or IEP in Scotland, 2008.1= least deprived area, 10 = most deprived area
Pupils living in areas of deprivation are proportionately less likely to have dyslexia identified (c.f. social, emotion and behavioural difficulties or general learning disability)Percentage of Scottish school population within each Scottish Index of MultipleDeprivation (SIMD) decile by type of difficulty (percentages in each group in stackedbar). 7 6 5 Percentage 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Learning disability Dyslexia Hearing impairment Physical or motor impairment Autistic spectrum disorder Social, emotional and behavioural difficultySource: Scottish Government, 2009; SIMD = Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.Category 1 = least deprived, category 10 = most deprived.
Dyslexic students have much greater chance of getting into higher education as a result of widening access policies – but social inequalities persist Disabled students now make up 8% of all undergraduates (3.7% in 1995) – represents policy success story. Majority of disabled students (just under 60%) have diagnosis of dyslexia. Dyslexic students are more likely to be male and from middle class backgrounds than general student body. Dyslexic students in HE less likely to come from minority ethnic backgrounds
Issues facing dyslexic students in HEManaging identity - Being identified as disabled may be useful in terms of accessingsupport, but may also be stigmatising particularly for students with hiddenimpairments such as dyslexia:I don’t like it see when you say that I’m disabled. Disability – I think that sounds sobad. I mean I’m not missing any limbs or anything like that. But I suppose really,when I think about it, it’s so hard every day. You come in, you’re like, ‘Please don’tgive me anything to read or write, to read out in front of everybody’. I would just passout, you know.I don’t like to draw attention to it, I don’t think the class knows. …I went to getassessed for the computing and he said. ‘There’s time here for some one to come andbe a scribe in the class and take notes for you’. But I don’t want that, I don’t wantsome one taking notes for me.(Megan, 19 year old studying for HNC in Health and Fitness in Scottish College ofFurther and Higher Education)
Uncertainty amongst lecturers about how to support - and how much support should be givenYou know, if there was an essay from a dyslexic student I tend to tryand ignore the kind of structural difficulties and try and see what theyare saying and so I tend to mark them on the ideas rather than theactual presentation. But that’s totally improvised, that’s not becauseof anything.I feel that in a sense Liam was disadvantaged by his dyslexia butalso he was getting all the kind of special attention which I washappy to give. I don’t think it was proportional to the attention I hadgiven to the other students with dyslexia. So I feel quite uneasyabout that as well. (Lecturer in English, pre-92 university)
Issues facing dyslexic students in HEParticular issue for dyslexic students seeking to enterprofessions.Low participation rates in vocational courses (e.g. medicine,dentistry, teaching, social work, nursing).Fitness to practise standards still represent barrier, despiteDRC Formal General Investigation into Fitness to PractiseStandards in teaching, education and social work
Access to teaching – disabled people make up 2% of Education courses, but around 1% of teaching professionTable 2: Number and percentage of disabled and non-disabled teachers on theTeacher Induction Scheme in Scotland, 2002-2006Year Disabled teachers Non-disabled teachers2002 12 (0.59%) 2,009 (99.4%)2003 6 (0.3%) 1,808 (99.7%)2004 16 (1.2%) 2,018 (98.8%)2005 24 (0.89%) 2,670 (99.1%)2006 31 (1.1%) 3,509 (98.9%)Source: General Teaching Council for Scotland
Dilemmas of disclosure – experiences of trainee teacher with dyslexiaI told my teacher at the end of my first week, beginning of my second,because I had got some major things done and I thought‘Well, she knows that I am a hard worker …’ and her expression was,I will never forget, her expression was ‘Really!’. And I just said to her‘Yes, you know I cope’ and stuff and then the next day I went in and shewas very close to another teacher in the school, and I felt like I had beendiscussed, and there was kind of looks being made and things, and thenthat teacher, from then onwards treated me like a child, and was very, very picky.
Conclusions Widening access for disabled people into higher education should be seen as success story. Reflects interaction between Government policy and campaigning by disabled people and voluntary organisations. The demise of Skill is a worrying development. Extension of disability equality legislation to higher education major influence – but major reducation of EHRC’sbudget and influence.
Conclusions But still barriers in terms of accessing higher education – dyslexia under-identified amongst pupils in socially deprived areas. Doubts about future direction of government policy on widening access to higher education – marked decline in applications by mature students. Discrimination still major factor in labour market, including professions.