Panel members announced for new Disability in Higher Education Advisory Panel

The Office for Students (OfS) has today announced the panel members who will be joining its new Disability in Higher Education Advisory Panel.

The panel has been established to provide expert advice on improving the experience of disabled students in higher education and will consider how universities and colleges currently support disabled students, drawing on evidence, research and analysis from the sector and beyond. It will make recommendations about how we can better ensure these students benefit from a fulfilling student experience. 

The panel includes students and experts in higher education and disability policy who applied to join via an open recruitment process.

The panel members announced today are: 

  • Josh Bradbury, a current student at the University of Warwick who is completing a year abroad at the University of British Columbia. 
  • Helen Childs, Head of Disability, Neurodiversity and Accessibility at the University of Kent. 
  • John Harding, Head of the Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre at the University of Cambridge. 
  • Stephanie Hayle, a current postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh who previously studied at the University of York, graduating in 2018. 
  • Patrick Johnson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Diversity, Inclusion and Students at the University of Law. 
  • Deborah Johnston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Framework) at London South Bank University. 
  • Lucy Merritt, Education Policy Manager at the Thomas Pocklington Trust, a charitable organisation for blind and partially sighted people. 
  • Gurur Deniz Uyanik, who graduated in 2023 from the University of Sussex and is currently a parliamentary assistant in the House of Commons. 

The panel will also include OfS representatives John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation, and Suzanne Carrie, Head of Student Equality and Welfare. 

John Blake said of the appointment of external panel members: 

'We are very pleased to be convening our first Disability in Higher Education Advisory Panel this year, and to be welcoming such an impressive and knowledgeable group of individuals to the panel. Between them they bring extensive experience of policy development, effective practice, experience of living with disabilities, and campaigning to improve disabled students’ experiences in higher education. Their insights and expertise will be invaluable as we seek to work with the sector to build an excellent student experience for disabled students.  

 'I look forward to working with all our panel members and hearing their views and recommendations in due course, as part of our shared commitment to ensuring the higher education sector really understands and is addressing the issues facing disabled students.'

Panel member Stephanie Hayle said:

'This panel shows the OfS’s commitment to creating truly sustainable and impactful change within higher education, and to improving the lives of all disabled students, enabling us to not just survive, but truly thrive.

'I am excited to draw upon my experiences as a disabled student in both England and Scotland and a former sabbatical officer, alongside my diverse professional background across the public and voluntary sectors, to help the panel champion inclusive practices, enhance support systems, and advocate for the rights of disabled students.'

The current panel will run until June 2025 and meet on a quarterly basis.

Find out more about the panel
Published 11 April 2024

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