The Students' Union Advice Centre is a free, confidential and independent service
If you have a disability, there is a lot of support available to you while you are at University. Often, students don't necessarily feel that they have what would be termed a 'disability', but this is just a general term that is used to cover a whole range of conditions that may affect someone, including physical disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and AD(H)D, mental health difficulties, autism spectrum conditions, and long-term medical conditions.
The support offered aims to ensure that students with a disability are not unfairly disadvantaged and have the same access and opportunities for success as all students and can get the most out of their University experience. Generally, it appears that students who have support in place are more likely to achieve their potential than those who do not access support.
If you have a condition which you think may affect your ability to fully engage with University life, it is recommended that you seek advice as early as possible. This will enable the University to determine what support you may need and put this support in place before you begin your studies. If you are already part-way through your course and have not yet asked about support, it is still a good idea to do so.
See more information about the University's Disabled Student Support (DSS) service.
By contacting the Disabled Student Support service, you may be able to get a learning contract, which will detail the reasonable adjustments that should be put in place by your course team (and other relevant teams, such as the Exams office). You may also be entitled to specialist 1:1 support, which the DSS service will help you to arrange. They will also advise you on applying for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) from Student Finance England, where relevant.
In addition to the support available through the Disabled Student Support service, the Skills Centre offers help with study skills to all students - but also specialist, tailored, sessions for students with a specific learning difference such as dyslexia or a disability (or by referral). They also provide tutorials on using Assistive Technology.
The University’s Wellbeing service provides specialist individual support with the transition to University for students with autism spectrum conditions or mental health difficulties, and specialist mental health practitioner support for students with a diagnosed mental health condition, as well as general wellbeing support and counselling for all students.
All students have the option to register with Student Health at SHU, the on-site GP service. If you are not sure whether it is better to stay registered at your usual address or with the Student Health at SHU service, please contact Student Health at SHU to discuss this.
Here at the Students’ Union’s Student Advice Centre, we can give you advice regarding your student funding and welfare benefits. We also offer impartial and independent advice about any problems or difficulties you may experience with University services. If you have any questions after reading this information, please contact us.
What funding and benefits am I entitled to?
Students with a disability may be able to claim additional funding from Student Finance England, NHS Bursaries (if applicable) and/or through state benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria.
Students with a disability may be able to apply for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) in addition to their main Student Finance England Funding, to contribute towards additional costs the student is obliged to incur. 'Obliged to occur' means that the support is essential to enabled the student to access their studies.
A student can only receive support for a designated course and they must meet the Eligibility Criteria and provide medical evidence. It is important to apply as soon as you think you might be eligible and need support.
Disabled students may get help towards the cost of:
- A general allowance for small, ongoing additional expenses that you might have because of your disability, for example extra printer paper or photocopying
- Specialist equipment
- A non-medical helper
DSA should supplement the provision of reasonable adjustments made by the University. DSA is not intended to assist with disability related expenditure that a student would incur if they were not following a course of study.
Local authority social services may continue to provide assistance towards personal care costs that will be incurred irrespective of whether or not the student is attending their course.
The University's Disabled Student Support Service has more information on its webpages click here for more.
There is additional information about DSA and who can apply here.
Full time students on courses funded by the NHS can apply for an NHS disabled students allowance.
Disabled students fall into one of the few categories of students who may be able to claim benefits. If you qualify for certain elements of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIP), you may be able to claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support (though single full-time students are exempt from paying Council Tax, so in most cases there won’t be a bill to pay).
There may be other circumstances in which you can claim benefits, such as if you take time out from your studies due to illness (or caring responsibilities) and you are waiting to return to your course once you are better.
The amount you get may be affected by income you already have coming in and some of the student funding that you receive.
If you think you might be entitled to benefits or want to know anything more about claiming and entitlement, contact the Advice Service. We can do a full benefits check to ensure you are getting everything you are entitled to.
What is a learning contract?
A Learning Contract is a document drawn up between you and the University which tailors support for your individual needs. Your Learning Contract helps to ensure you're not disadvantaged on your course because of your disability.
The kind of things a Learning Contract covers are reasonable adjustments to your course to enable you to fully participate, for example you may be given extra time to hand in work or sit exams. Your Learning Contract will also outline any additional support you may need in lectures and on placements according to your needs.
The contract is shared with relevant staff to enable them to ensure that the documented reasonable adjustments are put in place.
The contract can be revised and adjusted throughout your studies according to your needs.
The University’s Disabled Student Support (DSS) service are specialised in coordinating support for disabled students at the University. If you have any problems with your learning contract or Disabled Students Allowance you should contact DSS directly in the first instance. If you find you still need help after this, please contact us at the Advice Service.
Supporting your capacity to study
The University offers support to students, and aims to ensure that all available avenues have been explored to enable a student to progress and succeed in their studies. If you are having difficulties on your course due to a disability, illness or other circumstances, the University may review the support you are receiving and look at whether there is more that can be done or different support that can be put in place – or, indeed, whether you are actually receiving all the support you are supposed to be getting.
There is more information on how the University aims to support your capacity to study here.
In some circumstances, where the University feels that your ability to engage with or succeed on the course is still too badly affected by your situation, the University may look at withdrawing you from your course due to incapacity to study. If you are informed that this procedure or regulation is being used, it is advisable to seek independent and impartial advice from the Advice Service as soon as possible.
We can support you and ensure that the University has followed and interpreted its own procedures correctly. We can look at other ways of providing support and explore any underlying issues which you may have. We can also help you to prepare for any meetings and may be able to attend with you, to provide support and representation where appropriate.
If you have any questions about the University’s processes around supporting your capacity to study, you can speak to your Student Support Adviser or contact us at the Advice Service.