Speaking to the disability support team or mental health adviser

Making contact with the disability support team or mental health adviser early on is a really good idea.
Relevant to

They want you to be comfortable and successful in your chosen course and provider, so will be happy to answer your questions or give you more information and advice – even if you ultimately decide not to apply there. Their contact details will usually be available on the university website, but contact student services if you cannot find them.

Before you speak to the adviser, it is a good idea to think carefully about what you need to know to make your decision. To help you create your own list, we’ve put together some common questions you may want to ask.

If you have already visited the university or college and identified a potential issue, it is a good idea to raise this early to see how it can be addressed.


Application and transition

  • If I share details of my impairment or condition on my UCAS application, who will see this information at the university, and what will they do with it?
  • Will the university contact me for more information about my impairment or condition, or to discuss my support needs in more detail?
  • Is there any provision for me to arrive before my course starts so I can get used to my new surroundings before other students arrive?
  • Do you offer any events specifically for new students who are anxious about change?
  • Will any necessary adjustments be in place for the start of term? If not, when can I expect them to be ready?
  • What can I expect induction to cover, and how will it be managed?

Academic support

  • How current must my diagnosis or medical evidence be to ensure I am eligible for support and accommodation (e.g. dyslexia assessment)?
  • I have an EHC plan or statement of special needs – can this be used in place of a diagnosis? Who should give this to you, and who will see it?
  • What teaching and assessment methods are used for my chosen course? Is it possible to record lectures and classes, or to have a note taker? Can my course tutor make materials available before the class?
  • What support can I expect to receive with exams and assignments?
  • If I require a non-medical helper (e.g. note-taker, reader sign language interpreter), how will this be accommodated?
  • What Assistive Technology is available? Is there an AT expert I can consult if I have any questions or problems?
  • Will the disability officer be able to discuss my needs with my course tutor on my behalf or should I contact them separately?
  • Are written materials available in the formats I need to access them, for example: Braille, large print, e-books, audiobooks/digital talking books? Can you access reading software that allows you to change background colours, increase font sizes, or text-to-speech functionality?
  • What support is available to me in the library? How do I access it?

Accommodation, travel and lifestyle

  • What accommodation options are available? Are all rooms self-catering or are there catered options? Is all accommodation accessible? What facilities are there?
  • Can I stay in the same accommodation for the duration of my course or will I be expected to move out after the first year?
  • If I need to store medicines or sharps in my room, or require anything to be disposed of carefully, how do I arrange this?
  • If I need help with personal care, who should I need to speak to about making the necessary arrangements?
  • Is accommodation available for my professional carer?
  • How can I travel around and between campuses? Is there a shuttle bus service and how can I access it?
  • Is Blue Badge parking available on campus (and at your accommodation)?
  • Are there any clubs, societies or sports/leisure facilities specifically for disabled students?
  • How will the university or college support me if I find it difficult to make friends or socialise with others?

Finances

  • Can you help me complete my DSA application or provide more clarification about how I can spend it?
  • What documents and supporting evidence will I need to apply to the DSA or for other support?
  • Will I need additional tests to prove my eligibility for the DSA (or other support)? Can the university or college arrange testing and how much would this cost? Can the university or college help me meet any costs for this?
  • Are there any additional financial packages I may be eligible to apply for?
  • Am I entitled to any government benefits? If so, how do I go about claiming them?

Career and work experience

  • What work experience opportunities are on offer – and how are reasonable adjustments made to ensure I can access these opportunities?
  • How are placements and work-based learning made accessible? Does the university make arrangement with the employer, or do I need to contact them myself?
  • What can you tell me about my career prospects after graduation: how have other students with my impairment or condition (or similar) progressed afterwards?
  • Is there any support available to help me plan my career and make the transition after my course?

General

  • How many students are registered with the disability support team?
  • Does the student union have a disability representative or someone who looks after mental health matters?
  • What counselling services are available?
  • Are medical/dental services available on campus or must I register with a local GP/dentist?
  • What specific support is available for mental health issues?
  • What specific support options are available for my particular condition or disability? Are there any local support groups or facilities outside of the university or college?
  • [If you have a long-term illness or condition which may affect your attendance] Is there any support in place to ensure I don’t get behind on my studies and assignments if I need to attend hospital or am unable to attend for periods of time?
  • Will I be allocated an adviser to look after my needs, or will I be looked after by a team of people?
  • How are students who do not live on campus supported? What about distance learners (if relevant)?

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