Students with disabilities opt for arts, not IT

March 11, 2010

A study suggests that students with disabilities are more likely to study the creative arts than any other subject.

The analysis by Danielle Farrel, a research assistant at the University of the West of Scotland who is herself disabled, found that contrary to popular belief, students with disabilities are less likely to study technical subjects such as IT.

Across the UK, 4.6 per cent of students doing IT-related degrees have disabilities, compared with 9.4 per cent in creative arts and design and 7.7 per cent in history and philosophy.

And in Scotland, the three institutions with the largest number of students with disabilities are all creative schools: Glasgow School of Art (17.7 per cent), the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (12 per cent) and Edinburgh College of Art (11.3 per cent).

In a paper, "The course preferences of disabled students in higher education in Scotland", the researchers say: "People often assume that disabled people choose to study IT courses due to technological advances that mean they should be able to pursue a career in IT. This assumption is not supported."

The paper, co-authored by John Robertson, reader in media education at the West of Scotland, adds that the large number of students with dyslexia among those registered disabled may account for the trend.

"This specific group tends to choose courses based around a more visual nature rather than courses that involve a lot of note-taking lectures and written exams," it says.

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