Student disability discrimination by UK universities

David Gale made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Equality and Human Rights Commission

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Gwrthodwyd y cais gan Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Dear Equality and Human Rights Commission

1. Please provide sight of all communications involving the EHRC and third parties (to include the DfE, SASC, Office for Students, and Universities UK) on the issue of disability discrimination by UK universities against students.

2. Please confirm that the EHRC is aware that there is currently no formal governance process for ensuring that dyslexia tests carried out by psychologists on behalf of universities comply with SASC / DfE guidelines.

3. Please confirm that the EHRC is aware that the university complaints adjudicator (OIA) has no remit to rule on disability discrimination cases even in circumstances where the OIA rules that a university has abused its own complaints process during a disability discrimination complaint.

Yours faithfully

David Gale

Freedom of Information, Equality and Human Rights Commission

2 Atodiad

Dear David Gale,

 

Subject: Freedom of Information Request

 

Thank you for your below email dated 03 September 2020 in which you make a
Freedom of Information request.

As your email amounts to a request for information that the Commission may
hold, in accordance with the requirements of section 10 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, we aim to respond promptly and in any event no later
than 20 working days following the date of receipt of the request. In this
instance a response should be with you no later than 01 October 2020.

However please be advised that this may not be possible, owing to the
disruption caused during this pandemic period. If for any reason we are
not able to meet this deadline, we will notify you and give you an
indication of when we will send you a full response.

If you have any queries please contact us using the details below.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Governance Team
Equality and Human Rights Commission

E: [1][EHRC request email]

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre, 
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[2]equalityhumanrights.com

 

[3]Sign up for our e-newsletter

 

[4]Equality and Human Rights Commission logo

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

1 Atodiad

Information request
Our reference: 637752

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Dear David Gale
 
Please find attached a response to your Freedom of Information request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]
 
‎‏
[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 

 
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/

Dear Information Governance team,

I am in receipt of your response of 24.09.20.

Notwithstanding that the FOI request falls clearly within the boundaries of public interest, I will constrain this FOI request to the following organisations where the volumes of records are likely to be low:

Universities UK and SASC.

To note, the EHRC's inability to categorise records within a schema that includes 'disability discrimination' as a category and 'organisation' as a recipient suggests that there are significant inadequacies in the EHRC's information management strategy that may be having an adverse impact on analysis pertinent to the EHRC's core function.

The EHRC should also consider that any adverse costs in responding to my full FOI request is a direct consequence of its failure to architect information systems that are fit for purpose. The consequence of that negligence has an impact on the very victims of disability discrimination that the EHRC is duty bound to protect.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Information request
Our reference: 705912

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Dear David Gale
 
Your Freedom of Information Request
 
Thank you for your request, detailed below, which we received on 9 October
2020.
 
You have requested all communications involving the EHRC and Universities
UK or SASC on the issue of disability discrimination by UK universities
against students.
 
We are dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act
2000. We aim to respond promptly and in any event no later than 20 working
days following the date of receipt of the request; a response should
therefore be with you no later than 6 November 2020.
 
However please be advised that this may not be possible, owing to the
disruption caused during this pandemic period. If for any reason we are
not able to meet this deadline, we will notify you and give you an
indication of when we will send you a full response.
 
If you have any queries please contact us using the details below.
 
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]
 
‎‏
[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 

 
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

2 Atodiad

Information request
Our reference: 705912

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Dear David Gale
 
Thank you for your request for information received on 9 October 2020.
 
Please find attached our response to your request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]
 
‎‏
[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 

 
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/

Dear Equality and Human Rights Commission,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Equality and Human Rights Commission's handling of my FOI request 'Student disability discrimination by UK universities'.

1. The email information sent to Universities UK in 2017 is contradicted by written responses sent by the EHRC to students suffering disability discrimination in later years. Given that, in later years, university students were discriminated against as a group by EHRC policy, can the EHRC confirm that it did not amend its 2017 advice and that no queries were received as to why that advice had been amended to cover only those education sectors that were prioritised by EHRC policy and strategy?

2. The FOI request makes specific reference to communications with SASC:

a) there is a public interest in providing sight of documents that relate to issues with university testing methodologies for Specific Learning Disabilities in cases where students have suffered disability discrimination,

b) both the EHRC and SASC will have been communicating in their professional capacities and therefore the related communications are not covered by professional privilege,

c) the provided reasons for refusal to disclose do not prevent the EHRC from stating if and when communications with SASC took place.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Yours faithfully,

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

5 Atodiad

Information request
Our reference: 705912

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Dear David Gale,
 
Please find attached the reply to your recent request for review of your
Freedom of Information response.
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]
 

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[2]EHRC GB logo

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/

Dear Information Governance team,

Can I suggest that the EHRC reviews my communication of 03.11.20 as it appears that it may have misconstrued its content as well as forgetting that the initial FOI request was later refined by me at the EHRC's request.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale

Information Governance team, Equality and Human Rights Commission

Information request
Our reference: 705912

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Dear David Gale,
 
Thank you for your email of 10 December 2020.
 
It is unclear to us what information you are seeking.
 
Your initial request for information, received on 3 September 2020 was for
copies of all communications between the Equality and Human Rights
Commission (EHRC) and any third parties relating to disability
discrimination at universities. You also asked that we "confirm that the
EHRC is aware that there is currently no formal governance process for
ensuring that dyslexia tests carried out by psychologists on behalf of
universities comply with SASC / DfE guidelines"  and that "the EHRC is
aware that the university complaints adjudicator (OIA) has no remit to
rule on disability discrimination cases even in circumstances where the
OIA rules that a university has abused its own complaints process during a
disability discrimination complaint."
 
We responded to your request on 24 September 2020 to inform you that your
request exceeded the time allowance for dealing with a FOI request in
accordance with section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the
Act). We advised you on how to amend your request in order to bring it
within the 18 hour timescale. You chose to request communications between
the EHRC and two organisations. This request was received on 9 October and
acknowledged on 12 October.
 
Our response to this reformulated request was sent to you on 2 November
and we disclosed some emails and withheld some emails in line with
exemptions within the Act. You challenged this response on 3 November and
posed the following questions:
 
1. The email information sent to Universities UK in 2017 is contradicted
by written responses sent by the EHRC to students suffering disability
discrimination in later years. Given that, in later years, university
students were discriminated against as a group by EHRC policy, can the
EHRC confirm that it did not amend its 2017 advice and that no queries
were received as to why that advice had been amended to cover only those
education sectors that were prioritised by EHRC policy and strategy?
2. The FOI request makes specific reference to communications with SASC:
a) there is a public interest in providing sight of documents that relate
to issues with university testing methodologies for Specific Learning
Disabilities in cases where students have suffered disability
discrimination,
b) both the EHRC and SASC will have been communicating in their
professional capacities and therefore the related communications are not
covered by professional privilege,
c) the provided reasons for refusal to disclose do not prevent the EHRC
from stating if and when communications with SASC took place.
 
We reviewed your FOI response and responded to you on 3 December.  In that
letter, we outlined that you were raising issues that were not mentioned
previously, regarding EHRC policy and strategy. We confirmed that this
could not be considered within your review as it did not form a part of
your original request and the review was specifically a review of your FOI
request of 9 October. As previously explained, if you would like to make a
new request for further information, we need a description of the
information requested please and in particular, you will need to clarify
what advice from 2017 and what policy you are referring to.
 
Please also note that as outlined in our letter of 3 December, we did not
locate any correspondence with SASC.
 
We trust that this information is of assistance.
 
Yours sincerely
 
‎Information Governance team‏
Equality and Human Rights Commission
 
[EHRC request email]
 

Arndale House, The Arndale Centre
Manchester, M4 3AQ

[1]www.equalityhumanrights.com
 
[2]EHRC GB logo

 
 
NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/

Dear Information Governance team,

Thank you for your response.

In view of the failure of the EHRC to confirm whether or not it alerted stakeholder organisations to its policy shift away from that advised in writing in 2017 (litigation support for university student disability discrimination), unless I hear to the contrary within fourteen days, I will assume, for the purposes of communications with the Secretary of State for Education and the Minister for Universities, that no amendment was ever sent.

Furthermore, in view of the failure to provide sight of evidence of any review process or rebuttal of the current stated policy of not providing litigation support in university student disability discrimination cases, despite them meeting all of the EHRC's qualification criteria, the matter of the EHRC's policy-driven disability discrimination of university students is a matter that must be brought to the immediate attention of EHRC executive management.

In circumstances where the DfE has already evidenced its erroneous belief that the Office of the Independent Adjudicator can 'deal' with complaints of student disability discrimination by universities, where universities are evidenced as failing to use SASC compliant psychological tests, and where the Legal Aid Agency is evidenced as repeatedly failing to deliver coherent administrative processes enabling legal aid for university students, the omission by the EHRC further evidences systemic service failure across multiple public bodies that leaves university students entirely unprotected from those universities that choose to abuse their complaints processes. Again, this is a matter of the utmost urgency for the EHRC's executive management.

I am collating FOI responses from the EHRC and other organisations, together with first hand accounts from university students who have suffered disability discrimination for the attention of government ministers, a House of Commons select committee, and the Law Commission. As a matter of due diligence, I expect the EHRC's executive management to engage with me to ensure that it has a full picture of the catastrophic failures across multiple public bodies.

Yours sincerely,

David Gale