Course providers welcome over 45,000 disabled students each year, meaning there’s already lots of on-campus support available.
If you have a physical or mental health condition, learning difference, or long-term illness, you can let the course provider know on your application. However, it's a good idea to contact them directly to discuss your support needs as early as possible – even before sending your application.
There’s plenty of support in higher education for care-experienced students – with finances and accommodation, as well as help with settling in to your new surroundings.
Higher education can give students with caring responsibilities the independence and skills they need for their chosen career, through financial and academic support during their studies.
Students with parenting responsibilities
Universities and colleges are aware that if you are balancing your studies with family life, you may experience challenges from time-to-time. However, extra support may be available to help you manage, such as on-site childcare, academic support, and help with finances.
Students with a previous criminal conviction
Many people with previous criminal convictions enter higher education. Depending on the course you want to study, you may need to disclose your criminal record - universities and colleges will be able to support you through this process and offer guidance.
Students not supported by their parents (estranged)
Support is available for students who are no longer supported by their parents due to a breakdown in the relationship (known as estranged). This can include help with accommodation and finances, as well as health and wellbeing.
Refugees and asylum seekers
Refugees or asylum seekers who are considering applying to higher education, should always speak to the course provider before they apply, to see whether they can offer help with finances and other support needs.
Students from Armed Forces families (service children)
Young people with one, or both, parents serving in the UK Armed Forces, should let the university or college know about their circumstances and check what support is available. We strongly recommend using the personal statement to highlight the skills and strengths gained through their experiences.
Visit the SCiP Alliance website to get more support with your application and transition to higher education.
Armed Forces veterans and service leavers
For those who have served in the UK Armed Forces, or are preparing to transition into civilian life, there are a number of resources and initiatives available to help with applying for a higher education course.
Read more about the support available on the MoD’s Career Transitions Partnership website.
Applying to university as a mature student can seem daunting at first, as you may not have access to the same support and information as a current school/college pupil or recent school leaver.
Students from Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showman and Boater (GTRSB) communities
Students from GTRSB communities who are considering higher education might find it useful to find out more about how they can be supported to apply to university, and to understand more about the support they may be able to receive on campus.
The GTRSB into Higher Education Pledge is a firm commitment by a university or college to support GTRSB students into and within higher education, and to ensure a welcoming and inclusive environment.
More information and support can be found from:
- The Advisory Council for the Education of Romany and other Travellers (ACERT) website
- The Friends, Families and Travellers website
- The Traveller Movement website.
People who are homeless and want to progress to higher education may find there are a number of challenges to overcome – such as qualifications, financial issues, and access to expert information, advice, and guidance.
- The Foyer Federation provides housing to young people aged 16-25, along with help to reconnect with learning and increase employability. If you've spent time in a foyer, you may be able to access funding to help you go to university.
- Crisis Skylight centres across the UK can offer careers information, advice and guidance – including access to courses and qualifications.
If you're homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, the CentrePoint helpline is there for anyone aged 16-25 in England to get advice. They also offer careers support and training programmes to help you get to where you want to be.
Making your application
- Doing so means your chosen course provider can start to put the right support in place for you. This can include extra equipment, a scribe or support worker, and adaptations to living arrangements.
- Don’t worry about confidentiality – your information is only shared with those who are directly responsible for your support, such as student services or your academic tutor.
- Although if you’d rather not disclose at this stage, you can always tell your chosen course providers about your situation once you’re accepted – after your welcome email arrives – but check what support they have on offer first.
For any other support need, such as those listed above, it is a good idea to contact the university or college to discuss your needs or concerns – even before you apply. Many course providers will include information about the support they give on their website too. You could also mention your circumstances in your reference or personal statement, if you want to.
One of the key factors for all students when making the decision to go to university is money, and if you have individual support needs, there may be additional costs involved in accessing the equipment and help you need to succeed with your studies. Knowing what different funding streams are available and how to apply for them will help prevent delays and ensure you make a smooth transition.
In addition to a student finance tuition fee loan and maintenance loan, below is a brief overview of the extra support you may be eligible for, depending on your circumstances and where you live.
Channel Islands and the Isle of Man