When you’re filling out any kind of application form, whether it be for a new workplace or your university choices, you may be faced with the challenge of deciding if you should share whether you have any support needs. We understand that it can feel daunting to share this information, but when it comes to your UCAS application we want you to know that disclosure can be the start of your journey to getting some really amazing support throughout your studies.
What’s more, this information will only ever be used to help you access the best support, and it will never affect your chances of getting a place at your chosen universities. This is important because we know that you may have faced barriers to education in the past, and giving you the opportunity to share your support needs is intended to lift these barriers rather than create more of them.
Once you’ve made the first step of disclosure on your application you will be on the path to receiving Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). In order to get the most accurate picture of what is going to be the best way to help you thrive while you are studying, you will then have an assessment where you will be able to chat about the things that have helped you in the past, and learn about new options that you may not have had access to before. Your assessor will work with you to make the best plan for your support, which you can get set up as soon as you receive your DSA approval letter.
So what support is actually available? You could be eligible for specialist equipment and software with personalised training sessions, one to one mentoring sessions, or one to one study skills support. Which of these you will have access to will depend on your personal circumstances, and you may be eligible for more than one type of support. Adam Hyland, Campaigns and Equalities Director at Diversity and Ability says, “Receiving quality support from DSA is game-changing. Understanding what tools and strategies are available for students to reach their potential is a crucial part to a successful learning journey at university”.
These different options are all designed to provide strategies that will help you succeed with both your academic work and the new experiences that university life can bring. Many students have testified that it was their DSA supporters who provided them with a strong base they could return to throughout their study, when they needed guidance to understand their goals and how best to reach them. For example, one DSA recipient told us, "I could not have completed university, and come away with a Distinction in my Masters if it wasn't for my Study Skills Support". For some, this support has been the first time they have been truly understood and assisted in an educational environment, and given the full attention of people who are totally dedicated to championing students throughout their course.
Choosing to share your needs in your UCAS application is the first step to accessing this support, which can be completely life-changing. By letting us know about your personal situation we can ensure that the support you will receive is meaningful, and exactly right for you.
By Cassidy Ferrari at Diversity and Ability