Mum’s petition to help disabled uni students

Tomm is passionate about completing his course
Tomm is passionate about completing his course

A concerned Luton mother has launched a petition to help disabled students receive more support at university.

Jane Collier, 54, has started a UK Government and Parliament petition calling for the Education Health and Care Plan to be extended to higher education students up to the age of 24.

Jane was inspired to take action after claiming her autistic son, Tom ‘Tomm’ Collier, 20, struggled to start his Computer Games Development BSc (Hons) degree at the University of Bedfordshire this September.

Tomm previously had an EHC Plan which allowed him to receive daily one to one support at Barnfield College from the charity MacIntyre, paid for by Luton Borough Council.

But the plan does not cover higher education and ‘Tomm’ now has a council support worker who can only work Mondays.

Jane said: “The university have been trying really hard – it’s the system I’m angry with. Without the EHC Plan they can only offer ten hours of support for his part-time course.

“Tomm is the same person he was at college. In new environments he can become stressed easily, pulling his hair or wanting to run.”

Jane argues that to begin with, Tomm needs at least 25 hours of support per week for travel, lectures and private study, ranging from note taking to nerve calming.

She said: “My son is a bright student. I know after university he will do well in a stable job. He has so much to give back to society and there are families like us suffering in silence.”

A Luton Borough Council spokesman said: “A Luton Council adult social care representative attended a meeting held by the university on the 25.10.16 with Mr Collier and his mother present at which the arrangements for Mr Collier’s attendance at the university were confirmed.

“Mr Collier started his course on the 31.10.16. and the arrangements are to be reviewed in six weeks’ time. If the arrangements are not working for Mr Collier then, of course, we will look at an earlier review.”

A University of Bedfordshire spokesman said: “Tomm’s study support needs have been independently assessed and awards were made by Student Finance England (Disabled Students’ Allowances). At our last meeting with Tomm and his family we agreed the university will provide support for Tomm’s academic needs such as note taking in lectures while Luton Borough Council will cover Tomm’s personal needs.

“However as Tomm’s family are aware, unlike at school and at further education level, the Government does not provide funding for 1:1 wrap-around personal support at higher education level.

To sign Jane’s petition, visit: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/169008.