A school and college guide to how universities help students in need of additional support
Universities in the United Kingdom continue to work towards closing the access gap to higher education - in part by ensuring the needs of identified groups are addressed.
For example, most universities in the UK now provide specific and tailored support for students with additional considerations, such as; care experienced young people, carers, those estranged from their families, those with disabilities and more.
The support provided may include:
- Extra financial help that will usually not need to be paid back
- A designated contact to provide advice and guidance for the duration of their course
- Priority access to year-round accommodation
Ensure students are aware of the support that is available to them
If you are assisting students into higher education that have additional considerations such as the ones listed above, it is worth advising the students to research what is available to them at their chosen universities. Although most universities will offer an element of support, the level of that provision will differ between establishments, which could be key when making their final decision.
If the student has considerations that are not clearly defined, it is advisable for the student to contact their chosen universities directly to make enquiries about potential support available based on their circumstances.
Ensure universities are aware of additional student needs
When applying through UCAS, the student may be able to declare their status, such as being a care leaver, on the application. It is advisable that students do this, as receiving this information will allow universities to establish what resources and provision they are able to offer ready for when the student enrols. Many universities will also provide pre-enrolment support to help with the transition into higher education study. This data will be stored in compliance with GDPR guidelines and will only be shared with relevant teams.
If the student has not indicated their status through UCAS, they can usually request support at any time during the course, they will simply need to contact the relevant team within the university directly.
Whichever way they chose to access further support, the student will be required to evidence their status. Each university will provide guidelines on what is required, but it will usually be in the form of a letter from the local authority, medical evidence or letter from their GP.
University is accessible and support is there
Students with additional considerations often feel that going to university is inaccessible to them. By encouraging your students to research the tailored support offered and declare their status early, they will receive the care, support and advice they need to help them with the transition to university.
Jodie Loaring is a Student Engagement Officer at Swansea University. Her role has a dual aspect – she is a trained money advisor, supporting and advising students on a range of student money matters and she is also responsible for fostering student engagement, from organising financial capability events to measuring the impact of the service.