Swansea University wins UK education award

Swansea University has been crowned winner of an Epilepsy Action education award for its work in supporting students with epilepsy.

The university’s Disability Office team, who work within the Student Support Services department, were presented with their ‘Edward’ award by Ann Sivapatham, manager of Epilepsy Action Cymru, earlier today as part of National Epilepsy Week (15-21 May).

Disability Office award

The annual Edwards awards celebrate the nation’s epilepsy education superstars. They are presented by UK-wide charity Epilepsy Action to nurseries, schools, colleges and universities who have gone above and beyond in supporting students or pupils with epilepsy.  Swansea University was chosen as a winner because of its work supporting students with epilepsy across their campuses.

Swansea University has worked to make their campuses and courses as accessible to students with epilepsy as possible. They have worked to remove the barriers that students with epilepsy may face.

Every student with epilepsy that starts at Swansea University can access advice and support from a Disability Caseworker. The case worker works with the student to draw up a support plan. They consider all aspects of a student’s epilepsy in this plan—from their seizure types and triggers, to how their epilepsy might affect their studies.

The Disability Caseworker shares this information with other staff involved in a student’s studies on a need to know basis. They work with the residential services team to ensure that university accommodation meets the student’s needs. The university can arrange for fall detector and bed seizure alarms to be fitted in halls of residence accommodation if a student with epilepsy needs them.

From the moment a student with epilepsy starts their course, the Disability Caseworkers do all they can to minimise the impact that epilepsy may have on a student’s learning and ensure reasonable adjustments are in place.  Recently, they have supported a student with epilepsy who is taking part in a year abroad as part of their university experience.  Swansea University works with universities abroad to ensure that the safety and support mechanisms in place at Swansea are replicated as far as possible there too.

Swansea University is driven to become a place where people with epilepsy are included and face no discrimination or stigma. The South Wales Branch of Epilepsy Action Cymru works closely with the student support services team. Branch members have delivered epilepsy awareness sessions to staff and students at every level of the university.

Disability Office award 2

Asad Rahman, Head of Student Support Services said: “ I am so pleased to announce that we have won this award during this special week which highlights the issue of epilepsy in order to help improve the lives of everyone affected by the condition.

“Epilepsy Action was incredibly impressed with the support we provide here at Swansea University such as contacting students in advance to discuss support, the alert system we have in halls of residences and supporting students on placement years abroad. 

“I am immensely proud to tell people just how passionate all of our Student Support Services teams are. Recognition like this, on a national scale, reflects the hard work and dedication we all put in to supporting our students. 

“Swansea University will strive to introduce any appropriate adjustments for our students to enable them to have a fulfilling experience during their time with us. Over the coming months the Disability Office will continue to work closely with Epilepsy Action Cymru to set up a volunteer and training development programme which includes setting up Coffee and Chat Groups to support people whose lives are affected by Epilepsy. ”

Michael Dix-Williams, Chair of the South Wales Branch of Epilepsy Action Cymru, nominated the university for an Edward award. He said: “The work done by Swansea University today will be rewarded by the quality of our workforce tomorrow. I am delighted that students with epilepsy are being given the opportunity to receive a university education that, in the past, may not have been possible.”    

Epilepsy affects an estimated 63,400 children and young people aged under 18 in the UK.[1] One in every 220 children will have a diagnosis of epilepsy. On average, there will be one child with epilepsy in every primary school and five in every secondary school. Epilepsy Action works with the education sector so that the correct provision and support can be put in place for children and young people with epilepsy. Epilepsy Action aims to ensure that all individuals with epilepsy are able to reach their full potential.  The charity has produced a free online course for staff working in schools to help them improve support for students with epilepsy. This can be accessed at epilepsy.org.uk/schools

For more information about Epilepsy Action and the Edward awards, visit epilepsy.org.uk/Edwards

[1] Epilepsy prevalence, incidence and other statistics, Joint Epilepsy Council, 2011. 

Picture 1: 

L-r, Mike Dix-Williams (Epilepsy Action), Ann Sivapatham (Epilepsy Action), Eiry Davies, Adele Jones, Tom Barker, Jane Fisher and Cath Perrett (all Swansea University Disability Office team).

Picture 2: 

L-r, Cath Perrett, Adele Jones, Tom Barker, Ann Sivapatham (Epilepsy Action), Mike Dix-Williams (Epilepsy Action), Asad Rahman, Jane Fisher and Eiry Davies.