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Preached but not practised

Students at FE colleges are ignorant of the issues facing their disabled peers, even though they strongly support their right to integrated education, a new survey reveals.

Everybody In, a study of attitudes and relationships between disabled and non-disabled students, found most able-bodied students had little social contact with disabled peers. Almost two-thirds had no disabled friends at college, while more than three-quarters never socialised with people with disabilities in their leisure time.

The survey, conducted by disabled students for Barnardo's and covering 430 students at three colleges in south-west England, found almost all those interviewed felt all young people had the right to study together.

However, most were unaware of the circumstances of disabled students and nearly half thought some kinds of disabilities could make attendance at FE colleges impossible.

Barnardo's concluded that despite attempts by colleges to include disabled people, students still face barriers. The charity's senior director Roger Singleton said: "Professor Stephen Hawking would have trouble getting into too many of our FE colleges. Disabled students should gain access to all education establishments."

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