Support Available for Students with a Disability

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.

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.

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.

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 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.



See our Guide to the University's Compelling Personal Reasons Process

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.