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Applying to university

University guide for disabled students

If you’re a disabled student, there’s more to think about when going to university. Our guide will help you navigate the process with ease.

University lecture hall with student in wheelchair


  1. Course practicalities

  2. Accommodation

  3. University facilities

  4. Disability support service

  5. Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA)

  6. Open days

  7. Results day

  8. Clearing and Adjustment

  9. Preparing to go

Course practicalities

How physically taxing is the course you’re interested in? Will there be laboratory or field work? Make yourself aware, but don’t let it put you off – the right university will make sure you can study the course you want. Travelling to campus every day may be difficult, but there are flexible degree options such as part-time courses or distance learning.

  2. Choosing a course


Are the rooms and facilities suitable for you? Are there lifts without restrictions? Will any adapted accommodation available fit with your current routines? Don’t be afraid to be thorough and ask lots of questions. Being in the right accommodation for your needs isn’t something you should have to compromise on.

University facilities

Are academic and social facilities accessible in regards to your specific needs? Most universities will have an access guide on their website, which should help with your research. Again, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and really focus on how you’ll be able to take part in university life. Try and attend university open days to see if you’ll be able to access the facilities in an easy way.

Disability support service

Every university should have support in place for disabled students. Staff are trained to help and are there to make your experience as enjoyable as possible, so make the most of it. You can phone and talk to them (before choosing and attending a university) about your situation and ask what they can do for you.

Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA)

When you have a place on a course, apply to be assessed for your DSA as soon as possible so financial help will be there for you. This will help cover costs related to your disability, including equipment and physical support. Learn more about DSA.

Open days

It’s really important to attend university open days or virtual events. Try to visit all the institutions you’re interested in to see if they suit your needs. This way you can see the facilities firsthand and will have peace of mind before beginning the course. Attending an open day is the only way to get a feel for how easy it is to get around before starting.

You can get in contact with universities before attending an on-campus open day so they can make any arrangements you may need for visiting.

Some things to look for:

  • Will the course teach you in a way that’s suitable?
  • Are all academic and social facilities accessible?
  • Is there appropriate accommodation available?
  • Is there a support group for disabled students?

Student with clip-on hearing aid

Results day

Do some research before results day in case your exam results aren't what you're expecting. This could involve finding universities that ask for higher and lower grades than what you're predicted, seeing what disability support they offer, and questioning whether you could see yourself there.

Check out the disability services at the places you’re interested in and get in touch if you have questions. Find out if they can accommodate your specific needs. If it's feasible and there’s time, you could even make a couple of visits.

Keep your research findings in one convenient place so you can refer to them if you need to on results day. Make key decisions so you have less to worry about if you have to go through Clearing. For example, would you rather attend a campus or city university? Would you like to live at home or move away?

Clearing and Adjustment

If you didn’t get the grades you needed to get into your Firm or Insurance choice universities, or you did better than expected, use our Results day and Clearing page for help with Clearing and Adjustment.

When you find a vacancy that appeals to you, get in touch with the university as soon as possible. Speak to their disability support team and ask them questions to find out if it would be a suitable place for you to attend.

If possible, attend an open day using Clearing or Adjustment before you accept the place. Some universities will reserve specially-adapted accommodation for disabled students who go through Clearing and Adjustment. If not, the support team should be able to help you find an alternative.

Preparing to go

It may be tough and mean extra work, but it’s best to prepare in advance so your experience will be smooth and enjoyable. We’ve put together a list of things to think about to help with your transition into higher education:

Speak to people
Get in touch with the admissions team, support staff, lecturers, tutors and the disabled student representative. There’ll be protocols for disabled students in place, but if you get to know the staff a bit before moving to university you’ll feel more comfortable asking for help when you get there. Many universities have Facebook groups where you can get in contact with others in a similar situation – this may help you to meet friendly people and break the ice before starting university.

Make the most of your benefit entitlement
You may be entitled to more financial support than what you get for your Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA), so make sure to check. You may also be able to receive useful equipment to make things easier for you.

Check out facilities and access
If you know the whereabouts of the facilities you’ll need beforehand, it’ll take away the stress of finding them on your first day. Look out for lifts, accessible toilets, parking spaces, library and workstation access. Do research, ask relevant people, and see if you can attend the university again before starting.

Look into public transport
Are there good transport links to campus, student housing areas, the city centre and other places you might visit? Is transport accessible for you? If not, will your DSA be enough to cover taxis to and from university?

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