Planning your support
If you're offered a place at the University, our pre-entry disability adviser will contact you by letter or email to provide you with information about support, and invite you to provide details about your specific learning difficulty or disability.
You will be able to provide your details via our online profile form. Our pre-entry disability adviser will also ask what support you've had in the past and what you feel you may require at university. You'll be given information about the funding available to disabled higher education students, Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs), and how to apply for this funding if applicable.
The information you provide will help us advise you about support at university, explain what evidence will be required from you, how to obtain it and who to send it to. We'll provide details about university accommodation and accessibility if this is a priority for you. Get information about our accommodation.
Please remember that you have a responsibility to decide if a course is suitable for you. If you're offered the opportunity to try out any practical activities that will be a key part of the course we advise you to do this. If you're concerned that there may be parts of the course that you may have difficulties with because of your disability or specific learning difficulty, please speak to the school and our pre-entry disability adviser.
There are only two circumstances where we may not be able to provide support:
- Where there are serious health and safety concerns
- Where there is the existence of a barrier we cannot overcome
On these very rare occasions we'll contact you to explain these circumstances in detail. We may ask for some help from you - you may be asked to come in to the University and take part in a risk assessment. If we can't find a solution we will discuss this with you and explain the reasons.
Disability support checklist
Make sure you're ready for university with our disability support checklist
What support is available?
We make individual recommendations to your school about the support you'll need from them, such as:
- Particular exam arrangements
- Extra time for assignments
- Handouts in advance of lectures
- Written material in a particular format
- Being allowed to take a note taker or voice recorder into lectures
These are just examples of reasonable adjustments which may be made; what will be recommended for you will depend on your specific requirements. We use a document called a Disability Support Summary to tell your school what support you'll need. You'll always get the opportunity to read and approve the Disability Support Summary before it goes to your school.
The other main part of your support is the practical assistance you may need. For example, you may require a note taker, a British Sign Language interpreter or regular sessions with a dyslexia support tutor or a mentor. These types of support are usually funded via Disabled Students’ Allowances, which we talk more about later.
The University has a Personal Assistance Scheme which will arrange any support you need from another person, so that you don’t have to worry about recruiting support workers or paying them. All types of support are available to students on our higher education courses and students following our courses with our collaborative partners.
If you think you will need personal support to live independently at university, such as help with dressing, personal hygiene, cooking and cleaning, this cannot be funded via Disabled Students’ Allowances. Instead, you will need to contact your local Social Services team to discuss a package of support. Find details of local councils.
Evidence about your disability
You will need to provide the Disability Support Team with medical proof of your disability, medical condition, illness or mental health condition, for example, a letter from an appropriate medical professional. Please note that you may have to pay for this. The letter should include a short history of your condition, any diagnosis, how long you have had these difficulties, any treatment or interventions you receive, and how it affects you on a daily basis. We can give you a guide to show to your doctor if you think this would help - just contact us.
To receive support due to a specific learning difficulty (SpLD) like dyslexia, you must provide the University with a diagnostic assessment report which meets specific criteria and is written by a professional with a current Assessment Practicing Certificate.
If you have a report diagnosing you with dyslexia, please show it to us so we can check if it meets the requirements mentioned above. If it does, it can be used to arrange support at university and to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances. If it doesn’t, we can advise you on how to get a new report. If you don’t show us your report until you enrol at BCU, this may significantly delay implementation of your support.
Please note short reports from school / college, completed to give extra time in exams, cannot be used to implement support at university, or to accompany your application for Disabled Students’ Allowances. If you do not have a suitable report, we can arrange for you to be assessed at university. However, if you wait until then, any support to which you may be entitled will be delayed.
Please note the Disability Support Team holds all medical evidence securely and it will not be shared outside the team with anyone else in the University, without your consent.
If you have any questions or you would like us to look at your current dyslexia report to check if it can be used for university support, please email the disability support team.
Who pays for support such as support workers and equipment?
Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) can pay for study-related costs you may incur at university as a result of a disability, mental health difficulty or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, if you're on a higher education course.
The allowances are not means-tested and should not affect any disability benefits you may currently receive. You do not have to pay this money back, as the allowances are not loans. For example, they could pay for:
- Computer equipment and assistive software e.g. read-aloud, mind-mapping and note-taking software
- Other equipment e.g. digital recorders, radio aids, personal CCTV
- Assistance from support workers e.g. mentors, dyslexia support tutors, British Sign Language Interpreters
Important things to remember about applying for DSAs:
- It's your responsibility to apply for DSAs; members of the Disability Support Team can't do this for you, although we're happy to provide advice and assistance.
- It can take an average of three months for an application to be processed, so apply as soon as possible. This is particularly important if you know you are likely to need a lot of support at university - if you don't apply as soon as possible, your package of support may not be ready for when you start at university.
- You can apply for DSAs before you know which university you'll be attending, so you should apply early in the spring of the year you'll be starting at university.
- Read up on the application process first, as there is key information you need to provide, as well as critical steps along the way which you need to know about.
The Disability Support Team is always happy to provide advice and assistance with applications for Disabled Students’ Allowances. More information about DSAs is available on the DSA website.
You may also find it useful to visit the YourDSA website for a good overview of the process of applying for DSAs.
We know that disabled students who apply for DSAs do better on their courses than disabled students who don’t apply, so please don’t miss out on this valuable support.
Disabled students from the EU and other countries outside the UK
When an offer has been made to an International or EU applicant, the pre-entry disability adviser will send information by post or email about the support that may be available at the University because of a disability, medical condition or specific learning difficulty.
Please remember that International/EU students are not eligible for UK government funding for disabled students (Disabled Students’ Allowances). It's therefore extremely important that you contact our Disability Support Team early in the application process so that we may assess your support requirements and investigate possible sources of funding.