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National SEN & Disability Legal Practice

Universities

Statements and EHC Plans cease if a student wants to study at university although their Special Educational Needs and requirement for provision will not have disappeared.

Neither Student Finance England nor the Principals of Higher Education Institutions (Universities) have any obligation to have regard to these documents.

Some universities are better than others, and with effort, over a period before the student starts it is possible to get suitable provision put in place.

Nevertheless, if it all goes wrong (and the student is now in debt) University Complaints Procedures, Disability Discrimination Claims under the Equality Act 2010 and breach of contract in the County Court remain the only remedies.  The position is very unsatisfactory.

Reference to breach of contract often comes as a surprise.  The relationship between a university and a student is basically contractual.  A contract for the supply of a service broadly means an agreement under which a person (in this case a university) agrees to provide a service (in this case Education) for payment.  Here, the student pays and usually obtains a student loan to do so.

The University Student Handbook and website together with any other documentation form the terms of a contract.  In a contract for the supply of services, there is an implied term about providing the service with reasonable care and skill under Section 13 of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.  Reasonable care and skill includes compliance with statutory duties such as those which are under the Disability Discrimination Provisions of the Equality Act 2010.

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