Moving into a new socially just and equal ‘normal’- the lessons Higher Education must learn from its disabled students.

The past two plus years have been a time of chaos with much seminal change occurring both in and to education. The pandemic has brought much pain, but with it also hope. Where many have experienced segregation and inequality, others have experienced empowerment, being heard and finding success. The authors refer here to the lived academic and life experiences of many UK UG and PG disabled students. This paper draws on findings from and related outputs of a pilot study that took place during year two of the pandemic entitled Building back better: Working with disabled students to address unequal outcomes in UK HE during the pandemic.

Throughout the study, the project leads and co-investigators, worked closely with the national body Disabled Students UK:, resulting in panel contribution to DSUK’s national report dissemination on the pandemic for disabled students,- Going Back is Not a Choice:, the publication of a special edition journal paper, an invitation to submit a BERA blog series, contribution to a House of Lords report on the Disabled Students Allowance, various conference paper invites and media coverage of the work.

This presentation will draw out seminal pts stemming from the pilot study and related work for HEIs to consider, in terms of their moving into a new ‘normal’, which must retain and build upon wider access and provision. Much can and has been learned through the valuing and empowerment of user voices – so as education moves forward with terms such as partnership, collaboration, and equality in its bag- let’s ensure we reflect these words in our institution’s lived actions and evidenced impact.