Choosing which universities to apply for can be a challenging decision and if you’re a disabled or neurodivergent student there are more factors to consider beyond the type of degree you will choose. It can be hard to know whether a university will be able to support your individual needs and how to access disability support. So, today I am going to outline the best universities for disabled students in the UK to help make the application process that little bit easier!
The criteria of what makes a university optimal for disabled and neurodivergent students will vary depending on each student’s conditions, but here are some of the factors which I have considered are important to assess when determining the level of the disability facilities at a university:
Does the university have a disability support team?
A disability support team plays a vital role in providing assistance, advice and options to disabled and neurodivergent students. Without this team, students are often left to fend for themselves and can miss out on accessing the support available to them.
Best university with a disability support team:
The University of Sussex is one of the best universities for disabled students UK as they have an informative and helpful disability support team which are available for disabled and neurodivergent students to get in touch with for information about anything relating to university life and study. You can get in touch to learn more about the disability support by emailing them at email@example.com where they can inform you about their accessibility campus accommodation and reasonable adjustments available to disabled and neurodivergent students.
Does the university provide reasonable adjustments?
Reasonable adjustments are provided to disabled and neurodivergent students in order to level the playing field for them due to how their condition has affected their learning and study ability. Adjustments can be made for exams, such as having an independent room, an extra time allowance for reading and an external exam reader, as well as extended time to complete assessments and uncapped marks for resits.
Best university with reasonable adjustments:
The University of Winchester provides disabled and neurodivergent students with the opportunity to meet with a disability adviser to set up a Learning Agreement/Plan to advise the student’s academic team of any reasonable adjustments which may apply, under the Equality Act 2010. Reasonable adjustments include attendance requirement exemptions, uncapped assignment extensions, additional time allowances and exam facilities. The Disability Advisers can also let you know of any additional support which may be available to you. The quickest way to make an appointment is to book a short notice appointment via ‘Book Winchester’ links on the intranet appointments page. Alternatively, disabled and neurodivergent students can contact StudentServices@winchester.ac.uk to request an appointment.
Does the university have wheelchair accessible and adapted campus accommodation?
Disabled and neurodivergent students should be able to have the same opportunities to experience uni life as neurotypical and non-disabled students, and this means being able to live in campus accommodation. Universities with campus accommodation which is wheelchair accessible and/or adaptable to support the living needs of disabled students helps to break down the barriers to making university life more accessible.
Best university with accessible campus accommodation:
The University of Leeds is another one of the best universities for disabled students UK as they offer many different forms of accessible campus accommodation to disabled and neurodivergent studentsl. This includes larger rooms for wheelchair access and en-suite rooms with level-access showers, lowered shelves and light switches. For sensory disabled students, accessibility accommodation provisions can be equipped with flashing fire alarms and vibrating pillows to ensure safety. With over 8 different adapted accommodation university residences, the University of Leeds stands out as one of the best universities with accessible campus accommodation for disabled and neurodivergent students. You can click here for the full list of options or get in contact with their disability support team by calling 01133433927 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is the university campus accessibility-friendly?
Being able to access university campuses easily seems like an obvious factor, but it is surprising that many universities (particularly older and more historical campuses) have limited access for wheelchair users or those with mobility issues. Having a library which is accessible and user friendly can make a difference to the way in which disabled and neurodivergent students access resources and revise.
Best university with accessible campus facilities:
Brunel University London stands out as the best accessible university campus due to its Assistive Technology Centre and Sensory Room. The ATC provides students with access to a variety of equipment and software that can assist with your studies and includes magnifiers, height adjustable and specialised software designed for accessibility. The Sensory Room supports students with sensory disabilities such as autism and mental health conditions such as anxiety. Access to the room is limited to students who have been assessed by the Student Wellbeing department to ensure the facility is used to cater for specific needs. You can view a 360 ° video of the sensory room here.
Does the student union have a disability community or society for students to connect?
Being a disabled or neurodivergent student can sometimes feel isolating when you are navigating your condition alone. Attending a university with a disability community or society can make a difference in the way you approach supporting your individual needs as you can connect with other students in the same boat as you and support one another.
Best university with a disability community/society:
The University of Manchester Student Union has a Disabled Students Society which a “a group of Disabled students running under the Disabled Students’ Not-For-Profit, trying to create a fun, accessible place for disabled, neurodivergent & mentally ill students and graduates around Manchester to socialise, campaign & access support”. As a university which is accessibility friendly in a number of areas, the addition of this society can support disabled and neurodivergent students further to become a part of a wider network and community.
The best university for disabled students UK overall:
The University of Leeds ticks the boxes for all requirements that disabled and neurodivergent students would need at university when we look at the factors as an overall. They’ve got a great disability support service, accessible campus and accommodation, lecture room facilities for disabilities and assessment adjustment options, as well as the Disabled Liberation society.
How can I get support at university for my disability/condition?
If you’re looking to apply to university, you can apply for Disabled Students Allowance even before you’ve confirmed your place. You can do this by applying to student finance and clicking “change my circumstances” or by filling out the DSA1 form here. You can see the full list of eligible conditions here, and for support with your application you can join the Jamworks DSA Community here where DSA experts and other students are available to answer any questions you may have during your application journey.
Start your DSA journey today to get the best support for your disability at university – click here to get help with your application.