Management Responsibilities Toolkit Preparation

Selection and Admission


Selection and admission policies and procedures assess a disabled learner or tauira competencies and not their impairments.

Best practice standards

  1. Selection and admission policies and procedures are relevant to course and professional requirements and do not unjustifiably disadvantage or exclude disabled applicants.
  2. Staff involved with selection and admission provide appropriate support to disabled applicants in selection activities, use expertise to assess an applicant’s support needs, receive effective guidance and training to prevent disability discrimination, and are able to clearly justify refusing entry to a course on the grounds of impairment.
  3. Course selection criteria are regularly reviewed to make sure they are suitable, applied appropriately, and do not discriminate against applicants with impairments.
  4. Appeal processes for learners rejected on the grounds of impairment are available and widely publicised.

“We have learners who are obstructed from being part of programmes instantly, because they are seen as physically disabled.

We’ve had, for example, somebody who wanted to be front-of-house, training in a wheelchair, [the hospitality programme] almost immediately found difficulties with that. And [difficulties] that we’ve encountered in nursing. So some of the obvious [disabilities] are immediately responded to without support.”

- Student Advisor, Polytechnic.


“Tertiary providers do not have a culture of reasonable accommodation. They have a culture of one size suits all, and you will be squeezed into the box, no matter how much you aren’t going to fit.”

- Academic Staff, Tertiary Institution.

Ideas and resources to consider

  • Concentrate on the person’s ability – not their impairment. Ask all learners what support they require and only ask about their impairment if it is relevant.
  • Appropriate support in selection activities, such as interviews, can include creating a safe environment to provide personal impairment information, providing information in accessible alternate formats, allowing demonstration of ability using alternative ways to meet selection requirements, and notifying learners about this prior to selection activities.
  • Make sure you can justify any decision related to selection and admission. Appeal processes should:
    • Examine the grounds for refusing entry to a course.
    • Investigate support strategies that may allow entry and completion of industry requirements.
    • Seek expert impairment advice.
    • Adhere to relevant legislation.
    • Follow confidentiality protocols.

Engaging disabled learners

  • Before any selection, admissions and enrolment processes ask all learners if they have support requirements resulting from an impairment that need to be considered by staff.
  • As a result, some of these processes may need to be modified.

What you need to know

  •  Refer to the obligations of tertiary providers under the New Zealand Human Rights Act. With all selection, admissions and enrolment it is essential that you can justify any decisions to decline applications on the grounds of impairment.1
  • Admission arrangements can disadvantage disabled learners in the following ways:
    • Applicants must fill out an application form by hand and cannot type or use support.
    • An applicant with a speech impairment is refused extra time at an interview.
    • A learner with epilepsy cannot enrol unless they have an assistant at all times, when seizures only occur at night.
    • Reviewing applications from disabled learners after other applicants are selected for courses and learner accommodation.
  • Insisting on medical checks for disabled learners without justification.
  • There may be exceptions. For example, a person who uses a wheelchair applies to do a plumbing course. While training could be made accessible, the adjustments would not be possible in the workplace. In this case, the vocational nature of the course means it would not be appropriate to make adjustments that are not replicable in the workplace.
  • Consideration needs to be given to the possibility that a disabled learner is taking a vocational course to lead to a future in design or policy, rather than direct practice. For example, a woman is refused entry to an engineering degree on the grounds she would not be able to be an engineer because of her impairment. This is despite the degree not being directly vocational and that not all graduates become engineers.

Examples of good practice

In some instances discretionary entry may be required. Otago University has created a disability impact statement so that prospective learners can tell their stories or the context of why they may not meet the entry criteria.

1. The Disability Rights Commission. (2003). Code of practice for providers of post 16 education and related services - Legal rights and requirements under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995: Part 4. pg.45.

This page is current as of May 2022 Print this page