Teaching & Learning


Supporting disabled and neurodivergent students in Higher Education: Student Success Series (online)

11 October 2023–20 March 2024, 2:00 pm–3:00 pm

Student Success Fund

The Staff Speaker Series is a bi-monthly event series which provides an opportunity to hear from internal and external speakers who are currently supporting and/or working with disabled and neurodivergent students in higher education.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff






Student Success Office


Focusing on supporting and/or working with disabled and neurodivergent students in Higher Education (HE), the Student Success Staff Speaker series will run between October to March on a bi-monthly basis. This will feature Higher Education practitioners to help raise awareness of issues that disabled students face within HE as well as helping to build an understanding of how to best support these students in our day to day work. 

For any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Student Success team at smss.studentsuccess@ucl.ac.uk.

Wednesday 11 October (2-3pm)

Join us for our inaugural event on the 11 October 2023 at 2-3pm, where we will be joined by:

Mette Westander – CEO of Disabled Students UK (DSUK), recognised by Shaw Trust as one of the most influential disabled-led organisations in the UK. DSUK uses disabled-led expertise to improve accessibility in Higher Education.

Louise Grimmett – Head of Student Support and Wellbeing (Disability and Inclusion), Louise has worked within Higher Education since 2008 and is currently undertaking a part time cross-disciplinary doctorate at UCL on the radicalisation of young people and recent scholarly research on Autism and Extremism

Wednesday 15 November (2-3pm)

Join us on the 15 November 2023 at 2-3pm, where we will be joined by:

Ben Watson, Head of Digital Accessibility at UCL. Ben is a former law librarian and qualified teacher, he has a passion for inclusive design and has experience of working with all UK education sectors to improve both physical and digital accessibility of educational organisations. 

Howard Leicester, an academic in the field of health informatics and a campaigner for accessible information in academia, local government, publishing, politics, public agencies and utilities. Howard was awarded an MBE in 2017 for his work in health and social care. 

Wednesday 6 December (2-3pm)

Join us on the 6 December at 2-3pm, where we will be joined by:

Manjula Patrick, Associate Professor and UCL Arena Lead on Inclusive Education, brings a distinctive perspective and champions equity and inclusive practices in education. Manjula is an advocate for intersectional approaches to inclusion and has a track record of creating award-winning short courses and resources that prioritise inclusivity. Notably, her work within UCL's Faculty of Engineering evidenced previously unrecognised awarding gaps related to disability and neurodivergence. Manjula will be presenting on disability awarding gaps.

Piers Wilkson, Policy and Campaigns Lead, Inclusive Education Team at Diversity and Ability. Pier is the former NUS Disabled Students’ Officer and has been involved in disabled student representation for over 6 years. In March 2020 Piers was appointed to the Disabled Students’ Commission as a Student Voice Commissioner. Piers will be presenting on the Equity of Experience

Wednesday 24 January (2-3pm)

Join us on the 24 January at 2-3pm, where we will be joined by:

Dr. Melanie Thorley, STAART Manager at the University of Greenwich. STAART (Support through Accessibility: Retention and Transition) supports students with a disability, long-term health condition, neurodivergence and/or mental health condition to thrive at university. The initiative provides information and guidance to disabled and diverse students – both future and current – who have concerns about going to university or completing their studies.

Wednesday 21 February (2-3pm)

Zoebia Islam, Associate Professor, University of Leicester. Zoebia is an academic researcher in health inequalities and diverse ethnic communities. Her PhD focuses on the intersection of disability and ethnicity and how the combined attributes of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, culture, class and disability shape their perspectives and experiences.

Helen Knowler, Associate Professor, Arena UCL. Helen leads on UCL’s Eugenics Legacy Education Project and has developed a programme of activities to support staff learning and development and curated resources for colleagues who are looking to include eugenics history in their teaching. Helen also has an extensive background in Special and Inclusive Education.

Register now

Wednesday 20 March (2-3pm)

Rachel O'Brien is a disabled activist and formerly the National Union of Students UK Disabled Students' Officer. As a student, and later as an NUS Officer, she worked extensively on capacity building and movement building, including the setting up of sustainable, active disabled students' groups around the country. Since leaving the student movement, she has continued to work in the field of human rights, supporting activists in campaigning on human rights issues in the UK and around the world.

Suzanna Chen is UCL is one of the Disabled Student Officers at the Students’ Union and an undergraduate student in the Department of Arts and Sciences. We will also be hearing from Jeffrey Saddington-Wiltshire, Representation and Democracy Manager at the Students’ Union who will talking about UCL’s Leadership Race for 2024 and ways students can engage with the Union to promote change.

Register now