Text provided by Natalie Freislich-Mills for the UniTasterDays Students' Guide to University, when in-post as the Head of Make Happen (Uni Connect Progrogramme)
Although special educational needs and
disabilities is a term used widely in schools
and colleges, at higher education this is
usually replaced with the term disabilities.
Some students reading this may not identify
with the term disabled; however, it is crucial
that you are aware of your rights and the
support available to you during your studies.
I will provide a guide to this here.
The first step for you is to declare your disability on your UCAS application. Universities use this to begin conversations with you early, to ensure support is in place from the start. Declaring your disability will not affect your offers, universities have a legal obligation to ensure they are not discriminating against students during admission and throughout your education (Equality Act 2010). In addition, any student who declares a disability is legally entitled to reasonable adjustments. Universities want you to succeed, and will be keen to provide the information and support you need.
Disabled students can apply for specific
funding in the form of the Disabled Students’
Allowance (DSA). The DSA helps to cover
additional costs incurred whilst accessing
your course and is usually applied for
through the relevant nation’s body for
student finance. It is a non-repayable grant
and is dependent on your individual needs.
If you are yet to receive an official diagnosis,
it is not too late. Some universities offer full
or partial financial support for assessments
The types of support on offer for students will vary depending on the university, so it is essential that you research carefully.
Generally, the focus is on developing independent learning skills, so often support is less than in schools and colleges. Disability support is usually provided by student services teams, so be sure to get in touch or visit their page within the university website to find out what is available.
• Specialists or experts in specific
• Supported induction programmes
• DSA application support
• Exam or timetabling adjustments
• Flexible teaching methods
• Study skills support and tutoring
• Extended library loans
• Handouts in alternative formats
• British Sign Language interpreters
• Exam adjustments, including readers and scribes
• Specialist accommodation, including for carers
• Scholarships, grants and bursaries (in addition to DSA).
University open days allow students to
meet staff as well as existing students to
find out what support is available. Student
unions often have a disability officer who will
represent disabled students within university
decision making and ensure your interests are
represented as well.
Once you begin your course, some universities will proactively keep in touch, while others will expect students to take the initiative. It is also important to consider how the university supports you with your career transition, so make sure you speak to the career teams as well.
In addition to the above, your local Uni Connect hub may be able to support you too. Uni Connect provides impartial information and guidance on college and university and is funded by the Office for Students. Speak to your teacher or careers adviser, or visit the Uni Connect website to find contact details for your local hub.
This free newsletter will include information on university events added to UniTasterDays, as well as details about new webinars and blog releases for you and your students.
by Rebecca Wills
posted on 22 Feb '24
With so many graduates now entering the job market, a degree alone is not always enough. It is therefore very important that you work on developing your employability skills throughout your time at university, and university careers services are experts in offering a range of support to help you achieve this successfully. I will tell you more about some of the opportunities here.