It hasn’t been a great year for disabled people who study and work at the University of Lancaster. We started the year, in issue 166, complaining about a disabled toilet in Bowland North being filled with dust due to a combination of building works and a window that wouldn’t close. This minor mishap was dwarfed, as the sheer scale of the inaccessibility our building works were creating became apparent. In issue 179, we highlighted that there had been no fewer than NINE accessibility route changes put out by disability services in the space of two months.
Still, at least staff and students were made aware of the route changes, which is less than could be said for visitors to campus. Anybody consulting the university web pages, and particularly Lancaster’s DisabledGo page, would’ve (at the time we published our report) found no indication whatsoever that our campus had become an assault course. Indeed, in subtext 179, we reported that a number of people had swung by for a visit, and were left infuriated by what awaited them.
Lenient readers may be able to forgive all of the above as a failure to anticipate just how serious the disruption would be, but can there be any excuse for cutting funding to disabled students? This year our cash strapped top-table took the difficult decision to cut its financial contribution to SpLD assessments for students to 50%.
On the bright side, maybe the massive savings made from drastically impacting the life-chances of poorer students will be wisely invested into the Gary Neville University, who told us over the phone that they ‘aim to be’ an inclusive university.
We aren’t aware of any reaction to any of the above, with the cuts to funding for disabled students implemented with barely a whimper of opposition from anybody, except for subtext. You can read all of our coverage of disability issues this year via the links below.