Tuition attendance and students with mental health disability: does widening tuition options increase access?

Smith, Katy and Smith, Donna (2021). Tuition attendance and students with mental health disability: does widening tuition options increase access? Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02680513.2021.1999801

Abstract

This article explores student engagement with tuition at The Open University (a distance learning Higher Education institution in the UK), specifically students with declared mental health disabilities, comparing their access rates with (disabled) students overall, studying in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, 2018–2019 .y. The results show that students with disabilities generally engaged with all modes of tuition in similar proportions to which they were registered on the modules. However, students with mental health disabilities engaged with tuition at lower levels than registered on the modules, and the amount reduced as they progressed beyond the first level of study. Regarding the availability of different types of tuition, rather than widening access to more students, for students with a declared mental health disability it was often the same students accessing the different modes of tuition. We conclude that for students with mental health disabilities, more tuition event modes did not widen access to more students, although it did give more options to those who did access the tuition. These findings contribute to improving the currently limited understanding of how to effectively support students with mental health disabilities in tuition.

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