Using disability law to expand academic freedom for disabled researchers in the United Kingdom

Reuben Kirkham, Mary Webster, Ko-Le Chen, John Vines

We consider the findings of a study of the experiences of Postgraduate Researchers with Disabilities and explore how this relates to academic freedom. Drawing upon the provisions of the Public Sector Equality Duty and Indirect Discrimination within the Equality Act (2010), we note that a range of existing public policy practices, such as the operation of the REF, are likely to be in breach of these obligations. We recommend revisions to existing practice that speak more widely to the general concern of academic freedom, suggesting that a consideration of anti-discrimination law – rather than a purely intellectually focussed agenda – represents a pragmatic means towards shaping the inclusivity of higher education policy going forwards.

Author: Open Lab

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