Academics fear disabled status

April 27, 2001

Many academics are too afraid of discrimination to report their disabilities to employers, the Association of University Teachers said this week, writes Phil Baty.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show there are only 1,064 staff with disabilites in United Kingdom higher education institutions, 0.8 per cent of academics in total.

This compares with some 15,000 recorded in the more comprehensive Labour Force Survey, about 12 per cent of academics.

"In other words, Hesa has lost approximately 14,000 disabled staff members," the AUT said.

It said that "seriously inadequate data" meant that universities could never address disability rights issues properly.

AUT general secretary David Triesman said: "Universities need to wake up to their duties as responsible employers."

An informal survey of the AUT's disabled members has revealed anecdotal evidence that many disabled staff are afraid to report their disabilities.

"Many believe their disabled status could impact on employment prospects and promotion," it said.

The AUT said that there should be more investment in recruiting disabled staff, awareness training for managers and training for all staff to ensure that disabled people are not seen as a liability.

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