HC Deb 20 July 1987 vol 120 cc12-3W
Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what guidance his Department has given to local education authorities regarding guaranteeing places in higher education to disabled persons;

(2) what measures have been taken by his Department to encourage Manpower Services Commission projects to improve access to the colleges of the university of Wales for disabled students.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

In the recent White Paper "Higher Education—Meeting the Challenge" the Government reaffirmed its policy of providing access to higher education for all who have the necessary intellectual competence, motivation and maturity to benefit from it and who wish to do so. It remains the Government's policy, however, to leave to institutions the decision on which individual students to admit.

With regard to the question of physical access, section 8 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 requires that provision for the needs of disabled persons shall be included in the design of universities, schools and colleges of further and higher education.

The Welsh Office has provided funds under the education support grant arrangements to encourage local authorities to purchase special equipment designed for the use of students with special educational needs. Provision was made for expenditure of £80,000 to be supported through education support grant in 1986–87 and a similar level of support is being made available in the current financial year.

The MSC, in deciding which applicants it should select for financial support under its adult training programme, which includes the funding of adults on suitable courses in further and higher education institutions, is prepared to relax its general eligibility rules where the disabled are concerned.