Are there delays in reporting dyslexia in university learners? Experiences of university learning support staff

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459 Citations (Scopus)


The number of students entering higher education in the UK has increased over the last few years due to the previous Labour Government directives to widen participation to a range of socially disadvantaged and/or underrepresented groups. Dyslexic students form the largest single group of minority students currently entering higher education. However, there are ongoing challenges in identifying and supporting dyslexic students as there no obligation for students to report specific learning needs before or after they enter higher education. In order to cast more light on this ongoing issue, a small-scale educational research study was undertaken in December 2012 to investigate whether there may be delays in the reporting of dyslexia in learners once they commence higher educational study. The day-to-day working experiences of four support staff based at a learning services department in one UK university were explored. Methodology involved adopting a qualitative exploratory design using digitally recorded semi-structured interviews and a snowball sample. Interview data was analysed using thematic analysis. The key findings of the study indicated that dyslexia was more likely to be reported in the second and third year of a student’s higher educational journey. Further analysis of the study findings indicated a myriad of reasons for delayed or late reporting of dyslexia. Such reasons included maintaining of a non-disabled student identity, financial and/or time constraints or consciously and strategically deciding when to disclose dyslexia to improve final degree classifications. A number of further recommendations are made to enhance inclusive learning and teaching practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-43
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Issue number1
Early online date21 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • dyslexia
  • higher education
  • learning differences
  • students
  • university
  • widening participation


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