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We Support Your Ambition: An interview with Mehvish Ali and Jennifer Harley

When our students join the University we want to make sure we can support them however we can throughout their time studying with us. Mehvish Ali is currently studying the LLB Law at our Leeds Campus and wants to make a difference through her work. We caught up with Mehvish to see how ULaw is helping her towards her ambition of becoming a corporate barrister.

By Cara Fielder. Published 10 June 2019. Last updated 9 September 2021.

I chose The University of Law because I liked the smaller more intimate setting. Also, due to my mobility requirements, it seemed like the most logical choice as the Leeds Campus is close to where I live.

I think the teaching at ULaw is great; it’s definitely met my expectations. My favourite tutor is Jane. She's just so lively and it really helps when you have an early class. She's also really helpful and is always happy to answer questions. I’ve also built a good friendship group, which has made it so much more enjoyable.

I want to be a corporate barrister, which I think ULaw has definitely helped set me up for.

The best advice I can offer anyone thinking of studying at ULaw is to take the risk. I was very nervous as I hadn’t heard of the University before but it’s beyond what I expected.

When I applied through UCAS I ticked the box indicating I had a disability. Once the application went through ULaw sent me an email directing me to the website, which I was very impressed about. At the beginning the whole team was amazing, always there if I had any questions, and their follow-up reminders about DSA.

Overall I was very surprised as I’d never really received such fast and helpful advice. How quickly the department reply is very helpful and surprising considering how big the University is. Once I’d come to the Leeds Campus, Jane Fraser was amazing at always being available to answer any questions I had and make me comfortable. I had special tables in the lecture rooms and classes for my wheelchair as the regular ones would not fit.

I am the elected Disability liaison officer in the Student Society. My role includes helping to action any changes to facilities that are requested, as well as advising on the disability agreement. Last semester we changed three of six doors to automated, making it much easier to get around. I’m also on the widening participation committee, so I definitely feel involved.

A few words from our Disability Support Service Manager, Jennifer Harley

“Your success is our success.”

Jennifer Harley has been our Disability Support Service Manager for over three years. Originally a secondary school teacher, then a tutor for students with Specific Learning Difficulties. Jennifer studied for her GDL and LPC at The University of Law from 2014 to 2015 where she experienced first-hand what student life entails in an inclusive University environment. She returned to the University in 2016 and she has been working to support the ambitions of disabled students and to overcome barriers in higher education. Externally Jennifer is the Chair of the Access Higher Education Disability forum and on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Disability Practitioners.

Jennifer visited Mehvish in Leeds to discuss disability support at ULaw. She formed a productive bond with Mehvish who led her with feedback that has been instrumental in developing changes and moving disability support forward in higher education. Mehvish, who Jennifer describes as ‘inspirational, and successful’ has helped to improve the service for other disabled ULaw students to fulfil their aspirations in becoming lawyers. Mehvish’s input, into the Disability Support Service, has offered an important insight into the experience of students with disabilities and highlighted the aspects of the service valued by students. With student collaboration, Jennifer has developed an excellent support service for disabled students at The University of Law and Business School.

The most rewarding part of working in the Disability Support Service is the positive difference made to student’s lives. Feedback from students who have used the service is that they felt it offered the support they needed to realise their educational ambitions. One aspect that stood out was the early induction offered to students with disabilities which enabled them to acclimatise to student life before the start of the semester and to have a tailored experience.

The Disability Support Service can be a part of a student’s journey and is designed to be on hand for a students’ entire educational career at ULaw. Jennifer said: “Your time as a student at The University of Law is a journey and we want to support you throughout. Your success is our success.” When giving a speech at last year’s graduation, Jennifer was delighted to see so many familiar faces in the audience and commended students on their success and hard work. She is proud to see future lawyers that have benefited from the Disability Support Service at ULaw and hope they will remain in touch to give back to future students via the Disability Mentoring Scheme.

To find out more about how The University of Law works with our students to make life on campus the best it can be, check out our website.