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University of Cumbria

Case Study
Student Support Services Review

The University of Cumbria (‘Cumbria’, ‘the University’) commissioned a review of its disability services to explore the effectiveness of support provided to disabled students, including the systems and processes used to do this, and to understand where improvements could be made to improve the disabled student experience.

There were consistent themes in feedback that pointed to a need for significant changes in the structure of the team, the function of roles, support for the needs and training of individuals, and the visibility and reach of the team. These factors were impacting the behaviour and culture of the Disability team and its interactions and relationships with the wider University. The University asked Halpin to carry out a review of its current disability support services function to identify a more appropriate operating model which would better support every student.

Our work included:

  • a desk review of policies and other related internal documentation
  • interviews with 26 University staff and 2 student focus groups
  • provision of a comment box for wider feedback from staff and students
  • benchmarking research with three other institutions, to identify sector good practice
  • consideration of external sector guidance, research, regulation and legislation.


  • Creation of a new team structure
  • A total of 7 priority recommendations, 30 recommendations and 11 suggestions
  • Benchmarking research from across the sector
  • Review of current policies and systems