More frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers are available on the UCAS website.
As school staff, both you and your students will be familiar with the term ‘Special Educational Needs Coordinators’ (SENCOs) and it is important to know that the terminology is different within higher education.
The support teams in universities vary in titles depending on the provider but may be called disability support teams, student support teams or well-being services.
They are employed to ensure students are not disadvantaged in their studies because of their disability, health condition, or Specific Learning Difficulty. They can also provide advice about the resources that are available within the universities and from external agencies.
Students with long-term health conditions, mental health conditions, physical or sensory impairments and specific learning differences, such as dyslexia and autism are all entitled to support.
Most HE providers will work with students to create an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) or Individual Education Plan (IEP). Depending on the students’ needs these may include:
Encourage students to speak to providers about any additional social support available. Some universities also have social networks and communities within the universities for disabled students. Often these networks are run by students or student unions with support from staff in the support teams. Different events are put on each year such as welcome events, socials, meetings and sounding boards. The aim is for students to:
A local example is the STAART initiative ran at the University of Greenwich:
STAART – (Support Through *AccessAbility Retention and Transition)
The STAART initiative provides support mechanisms to prepare students for the reality of university for disabled students
Some students are hesitant to inform the university about any additional support needs because of concerns it might impact negatively on their application or that they may be treated differently. However, under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for any HE provider to discriminate against anyone for any reason associated with a disability.
Students do not have to tell the university; however, it is strongly advised for them to share (disclose) this information as early as possible so course providers can make reasonable adjustments and arrange the support they are entitled to.
All new students are recommended to share information about a disability, health condition, mental health difficulty or Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) to get the additional support that they may need. There is an option on the UCAS application for you to identify this. If you choose to share this information, you will receive an information pack from your chosen universities with guidance on what to do next.
The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is available to financially support students with any additional costs they may incur whilst being a student. Students can get DSA on top of other student finance and you will not need to repay DSA. The DSA is not means tested or based on your household income.