AQW 21522/11-15

Mr Robin Swann
Ulster Unionist Party
North Antrim

Tabled Date: 09/04/2013
Answered On Date: 22/04/2013
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister for Employment and Learning how many students with a disability have been enrolled in Higher Education Institutions over the last five years, broken down by disability type.

I have placed the information requested in the Assembly Library and on my Department’s website at
This table details the number of students at Northern Ireland (NI) Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) from 2007/08 to 2011/12 who declared having a disability, based upon their own self assessment, broken down by disability type.
Information on disability is collected on the basis of a student's own self assessment. Students are not obliged to report a disability and Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) therefore advises that the figures reported based upon disability analyses may not be representative of the total student population.
It is important to note that HESA’s disability coding frame changed in 2010/11, and this involved a change to the wording of the disability categories and the number of categories recorded. The universities’ data collection methodologies also changed significantly in 2008/09, with the introduction of online admission systems and the switch from a paper disability questionnaire to an online questionnaire. There were also small differences between the Northern Ireland HE Institutions in the way that the HESA disability coding frame was presented to students in these new admission systems. There is no standard implementation guide for the disability questions across all HE institutions in the United Kingdom. The University of Ulster also highlighted some technical difficulties in the implementation of the new systems. As a result the figures below are not directly comparable on a year by year basis.