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Disabilities support

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For study in an Higher Education Institution

Universities welcome students with disabilities and specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia). However, universities have different names for their support services. At school, you often hear about Special Educational Needs or SEN; most schools have a SENCO who arranges class support. Instead, universities have Disability Advisors. The names of this role depend on which university you go to.

The disability and dyslexia support team is normally located in Student Services or similar. For instance, there is one university where the support services are found in the Enabling Centre and quite a few institutions have Disabled Student Services.

Disability Advisers at universities provide advice and study support for a wide range of students, including those with:

  • specific learning difficulties (e.g., dyslexia, dyspraxia)
  • long-term health conditions (e.g., arthritis, diabetes, epilepsy, CFS/ ME, HIV);
  • mental health difficulties (e.g., anxiety, depression);
  • mobility difficulties (e.g., wheelchair users);
  • sensory impairments (e.g., hearing impairment, visual impairment);
  • autistic spectrum difficulties (e.g., Asperger syndrome);

This list is not exhaustive and universities may be able to provide support for any non-trivial difficulty lasting twelve months or more.

The best thing to do in a first instance is to look at the website of the university you are interested in to find out what support they can provide.

Visit the campus

Without visiting the university campus, it is difficult to see how accessible it is, and how big it is. Some universities have very big sites with lakes and parkland as well as classrooms and accommodation. Others are smaller and more compact. You may need to consider the size when you are making your decision if you easily feel tired or have difficulty moving around.

While you are visiting university campus, try to visit staff members that are responsible for making sure that all students with special educational needs are supported properly, for example Student Disability Adviser. This will give you an idea of what support you can expect if you enrol there.

Financial support

Study support can be funded by Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs). DSAs are additional to the standard student finance package. DSAs are available if you are studying full or part-time at either under or postgraduate level. DSAs are not means tested and do not need to be repaid.