Reasonable Adjustments in Exams

A parent contacted the helpline, looking for information and advice about what their child’s rights were in relation to receiving ‘reasonable adjustments’ for a university admissions test for a degree course their child had applied to. The university was refusing to allow adjustments for an entry exam for their child, who had a specific learning difficulty and required extra time, a calculator and a note taker. The parent had already advocated for their child, explaining that due to having a specific learning difficulty, their child faced additional barriers that someone without the impairment would not have to deal with. They explained that their child had been attending college and had no issues in receiving these adjustments when sitting exams. However the university continued to refuse to implement the requested support, making reference to an ‘unfair advantage’. We therefore made the decision to intervene and advocate on behalf of the individual in this case, as a quick resolution was necessary due to the fact the exam was scheduled in the next few days. We liaised with the admissions staff and the disability leads at the university, explaining the relevant applicable areas of the Equality Act (2010) in detail and the legal right this individual had to receiving reasonable adjustments to an admissions process. We highlighted the fact that while adjustments to a competence standard were not a legal right, changes to the way that competence standard was assessed, were. The university reversed their decision immediately after our intervention, and informed the individual that the necessary adjustments would be put in place. In addition, the disability lead at the university advised that as a result of our intervention, the issue had been highlighted as an institutional wide policy issue, so they would work with the admission staff to ensure the policy would be changed and disabled students in the future would not have to face the same barriers to getting the appropriate adjustments put in place. The parent contacted us to say, “I don’t know what you’ve said or who you’ve spoken to, but I cannot thank you enough for your input. The university has now completely backed down and are allowing every single one of the adjustments we asked for and my daughter now feels unbelievably relieved.”