Dyslexic students at some universities are going without the support they are entitled to, while able students at other universities may be fraudulently claiming allowances, according to a report due to be published next week.
"We cannot say that there are not students who are not dyslexic getting disabled students' allowances and extra exam time," said Chris Singleton of the University of Hull, who chaired the national working party on dyslexia in higher education. "The only way to be sure is through objective assessment."
The working party found that universities and colleges do not use a consistent test for dyslexia. Its report sets out guidelines for correct diagnosis.
The report, which took four years to compile, revealed large discrepancies among universities and colleges in the identification and support of dyslexics. Just 0.95 per cent of students at traditional universities were registered as dyslexic, compared with 1.31 per cent and 1.54 per cent in new universities and higher education colleges, respectively. "Differences are sufficiently marked to suggest that action is required," the report says.
Dr Singleton said the report is "very timely as the government is increasing access to higher education and providing funding to admit disabled students."
Dr Singleton estimates that the the proportion of dyslexic students in higher education is between 1.5 and 2.5 per cent. This compares with 4 per cent for the population as a whole. "Whether it will be possible to bring the proportion of dyslexics in higher education into line with the general population, I am not sure," he said.