Katherine has worked at Oxford University for 10 years, with a focus on strategic and policy issues related to disabled students across the collegiate University. With a background in mental health and community development, Kathy previously worked as a primary care mental health worker in the NHS before moving into disability and mental health provision in universities.
The Disability Advisory Service provides information and advice on disability issues and facilitates support for those with, for example, sensory or mobility impairments, long-term health conditions, specific learning difficulties, autistic spectrum conditions or mental health difficulties.This includes core areas of work around implementing specialist and non-specialist study support, assessing students study support requirements - communicating these to wider university and providing advice to staff. The DAS works in partnership with the University Counselling Service, as there is a big crossover in the work that they both do.
A decade ago when Kathy started working at Oxford, 1200 students were registered with the DSA, now, there are around 5400 students registered which is 22% of the student population. DSA annual report
Kathy talks about:
How Covid made online lecture capture possible seemingly overnight at Oxford, where it wasn’t embraced before as inclusive practice, which the student community have found deeply frustrating - and how the pandemic reopens debate for wider structural change.
How accommodations should just be there from the start
The attainment gap between disabled and non-disabled students revealed in most recent number crunching, and using this to develop more inclusive practices and anticipating people's needs in advance.
How government regulations follow a medical model of disability which is restrictive for the service in terms of what support they can provide
Preliminary results of research from Cambridge indivates that giving students extra time will not necessarily level the playing field for students with SPLD’s.
“It has been interesting with Covid how quickly issues like lecture capture has moved on. A hot topic with students who are understandably quite cross that there has always been so much resistance at recording lectures at Oxford, and then all of a sudden we are in the middle of a pandemic and all of a sudden overnight it is possible and I understand that is a difficult thing to swallow, but I think it will provide us with an opportunity to get that debate going again and try to ensure that some of these changes become more long term - so that people have the opportunity to engage with their study in a way that suits them without having to necessarily ask for individual arrangements.”