There is often a misconception that by declaring a disability or mental health condition, an application to a university may be looked at differently or unfavourably, but it is important to note that this is not the case.
When an application to the University of Warwick is received, it is looked at purely based on the academic elements, such as predicted and achieved grades, personal statements and teacher references, and also anything extra sent in, such as our Warwick AWARDS form. Any disability or mental health condition declared through UCAS does not impact on our academic assessment of the application form. At offer stage, the Disability Team makes contact with applicants who have declared a disability or mental health condition to make them aware of the support available at the university and encourage them to engage with the team as quickly as possible, especially if they have any specific accessibility requirements, such accommodation needs.
There is one exception to this: where an applicant may have applied for a course with specific additional professional requirements, it may be referred to the department and disability services before an offer is made (e.g. if we need Occupational Health clearance for our MBChB (Medical) degree), but this is more about the support measure that would need to be put in to place in order for the applicant to be successful on their course.
Should any applicant be hesitant to declare a condition or impairment in their UCAS application, Warwick offers an additional route whereby an AWARDS form can be submitted alongside the application. This allows a more discrete way of talking about how things have affected them and their studies. Each university and college is different in how they gather this information, so we advise checking their individual admissions pages as well.
If an applicant does not have a declared disability or mental health condition but has suffered from any medical/personal barriers during their studies, we would actively encourage these applicants (with their permission) to get their teacher/adviser to tell the university or college in their reference. It should never be felt that this would in any way disadvantage the student’s application, but instead allow the university or college to see how they have managed to achieve, even through these barriers.
Once a student starts at the University of Warwick, there is a wide range of support measures in place that collectively form the Warwick support network, allowing students to access additional wellbeing and disability support should they wish to. Each hall of residence has a Residential Life Team (whereby staff or postgraduate students live in amongst the community to act as a first point of contact); each student is allocated a Personal Tutor (someone from whom students can get pastoral as well as academic support); the Wellbeing Support Services Team which offers daily consultations and signposting to a range of services; an onsite medical centre; and many societies where students can meet other students and access peer support.
Young people with mental health conditions or disabilities should never feel they cannot apply to university or college, or that they cannot be open about any conditions they may have. Universities and colleges are hives of support and are there to help.
Amanda Bishop – Widening Participation Co-ordinator, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Medicine