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Universities collaborate to support disabled students

23 July 2001

Universities collaborate to support disabled students

THREE Birmingham universities have joined forces to create a scheme to improve support for disabled students in higher education.

The Birmingham Universities Personal Assistance Scheme Project (BUPAS), which began at UCE and is being extended to Aston and Birmingham institutions, provides training for support workers who are employed by the scheme and for students who use the scheme. Training will encompass disability awareness, communication and professional development when supporting students who are dyslexic, deaf, blind, physically disabled or who have mental health problems.

Links are being forged with local mainstream and specialist further education colleges to support transition programmes to assist students who make the move into HE.

BU-PAS is a three year, collaborative project running from January 2000 to December 2002 with funding provided by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council of England).

The University of Birmingham's Disability Co-ordinator, Sue Green, said: "We are pleased to be part of this project, which has strengthened our disability provision and forged better links between the three universities."

Ash Talwar from Aston University said: "Last year saw an increase in the number of supported students at Aston from previous years and the scheme's inception proved to be timely. It allowed us to provide the best possible assistance for students with disabilities. The potential of this scheme to assist students who require it is very good indeed and we feel justifiably proud of the way it has begun."

Liz Collins, Project Manager at UCE, commented: "Sharing commitment with Aston and Birmingham staff has been interesting and rewarding. UCE's Personal Assistance Scheme has benefited from the Project and support workers have found the qualification they can gain from the training a useful addition to their CVs."

The working relationship of Alex Linsley and Paul Grange is a perfect illustration of how the BU-PAS Project has achieved some important targets in its first operational 12 months to the benefit of disabled students.

Paul has a severe physical disability and needs assistance to complete his degree work. Fortunately for Paul, Aston University's partnership in the Project with Birmingham and UCE has enabled them to set up a successful Personal Assistance Scheme based on the UCE model.

Graduate Alex was one of their first recruits and has worked for Paul almost full-time since starting. Having no experience of working with people with disabilities, Alex found the training, provided through the Project, indispensable in giving her the skills she needed. With Paul's support, Alex has completed her profile of work for accreditation. With Alex's support, Paul has successfully completed the first year of his degree course.

Ends

For further information please call 0121 204 4549 or email: b.a.l.coombes@aston.ac.uk

Notes to Editors

Project manager - Liz Collins: liz.Collins@uce.ac.uk Tel: 0121 331 7757

Project partners:

Birmingham University - Project Co-ordinator: Sue Green: greensm@acadsec.bham.ac.uk Tel: 0121 414 5122
Aston University - Project Co-ordinator: Sian Howarth s.l.howarth@aston.ac.uk Tel: 0121 359 3611

Website: www.personalassistancescheme.org.uk

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