Before you jump into intensive and awfully fun student life it’s worth finding out your rights and what services university should provide for your personal needs. Each university is different but have a look at our short guide on the help you can expect.
Equality Act 2010 is the key.
Under the Equality Act 2010, universities have a duty to help meet disabled students’ needs. You’re considered to be disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has:
- Substantial (more than minor)
- Long-term (12 months or more)
negative effect on your ability to do daily activities. Under this Act, universities and colleges must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so disabled students aren’t significantly disadvantaged compared with other students who aren’t disabled.
First things first.
Your first step should be check how your chosen universities can help you. You can ask at open days or look on their websites.
When you start your UCA application form remember to tick the ‘disability’ box. Many universities will contact you beforehand so they can put any necessary adjustments in place before you arrive. Even if you choose not to (or forgot…) tick the box, still try to contact your university before arriving.
Register with the Disability Team.
Next thing to do is register with your university’s ‘Disability Team’. Each university has a slightly different name for their team. Ideally try register before September, so everything is in place for the freshers’ week.
Think about making an appointment with one of the co-ordinators. This way they can verify your disability (don’t forget the paperwork from your doctor!) and come up with a plan for you. This is the time and place where you can communicate what you need. Try to think about it beforehand and come prepared. Remember, some universities might seem less friendly and approachable, but they still need to respect your needs.
Reasonable adjustments you can expect.
Your university must offer ‘reasonable adjustments’. Even if you’re currently managing your AS very well, think it through. Take into account your worst days, not the best.
Some difficulties to consider:
- Irregular attendance or lateness (morning stiffness doesn’t care what time you start)
- Periods when you’re unable to study or complete assignments on time (flares don’t care about your coursework deadlines)
- Concentration and stamina problems (painsomnia and fatigue are nothing new to you).
Adjustments to meet your needs can include:
- Flexibility in attendance (or being late)
- Class and exam arrangements (rest/stretch breaks, adjusted sitting, extra time)
- Assistance in supplying you with handouts and lecture presentations in advance
- Library arrangements (they can deliver materials to you rather than you travelling to a campus in a different city).
Deck the halls (of residence).
If you’re planning to stay in university accommodation do think about any needs you might have in advance. A en-suite room or a room on the ground floor might be a life saver when your pain and fatigue is really bad. If you are on biologics think about how and where you’ll be storing it.
Take time to talk.
Everything might be in writing but do make time to chat with your department and tutor to make sure they understand your needs.
If you feel your needs aren’t being met try to speak with the Academic Advisor, Specialist Advisor, Equality and Diversity Office or any other service that is in place to deal with your query. If you’re still not successful you might consider a formal complaint and take it further to external organisations.
Most of the universities provide counsellors that can help you with a range of personal and emotional issues. If you feel like AS is taking a toll on your mental health don’t hesitate and contact your university services to schedule an appointment.