Inclusion Now 64

Legal Question

The legal question was answered by Alice Gough at Simpson Millar Solicitors

I am a 19-year-old student, with a diagnosis of Autism, who recently gained my A levels and wish to further my IT studies through a university degree. I’m also making a claim for Universal Credit as an independent adult, and am required to undertake a work capability assessment before continuing. Under this system, I will lose my established EHCP adjustments, which include communications support for speech therapy. Do I have any legal rights for continuation of my EHCP as I transition from college to university?

Your Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) can only come to an end when either or both of the following apply: your EHCP is no longer necessary and/or the local authority is no longer responsible for you.

The law states that an EHCP comes to an end when you attend university, as the Local Authority is no longer responsible for you when you attend ‘Higher Education’ (University). Therefore, you will not have any legal rights for the continuation of your EHCP as you transition to university, however there is other support you can access and you may be able to obtain adjustments once your EHCP comes to an end if attending a university setting.

Universities do not have to provide the exact provision specified in an EHCP but they must comply with the Equality Act 2010 and ensure they are not discriminating against students. This includes a duty to make reasonable adjustments.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments requires education providers, such as universities, to take positive steps to ensure that Disabled students can fully participate in the education and enjoy the experience and other benefits, facilities and services provided for all students.

Support can usually be sought from the Disabled Student’s Department of the relevant university.

You should contact the department and if appropriate, apply for the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) to request an assessment which is completed by Student Finance England. The assessment is likely to be with occupational health and you should explain your communication and any other needs as within your EHCP as, although not legally binding, this helps document what your needs are.

If the university refuse to complete the assessment or, following the completion of the assessment, the university does not follow the recommendations for support and/or reasonable adjustments, then you should seek advice in relation to potential discrimination, under the Equality Act 2010. This could be a County Court claim and must be lodged within 6 months of the potential discrimination occurring. This would look at whether or not the adjustment is ‘reasonable’ as there is no set list of adjustments to be made within the Act. It is all fact and case specific. This makes getting advice on your specific circumstances very important. We have also found that some student unions to be very good at offering this support.

The Equality Act (and the principles within it) also apply to any other processes such as application for certain benefits etc.

This Legal Question was answered by Alice Gough at Simpson Millar Solicitors