Applying for university through UCAS can be a time-consuming and difficult affair for many students. If you have a disability, you would be wrong in thinking this will only make the process harder. Informing UCAS of your disability, special needs (including dyslexia) or medical condition is a simple undertaking and shouldn’t be a major cause for concern.
The Application and Personal Statement
Every student that applies has to indicate whether they have a disability or not by entering the relevant code. Depending on your own individual situation you may require special arrangements or facilities in order study and take your exams. The UCAS Admissions Guide and Decision Processing Manual has details about the various disability categories and codes to clear up any confusion.
When writing your personal statement, mentioning you have a disability is not compulsory. However if overcoming your situation has enabled you to become a better student then there is no harm in referring to it. Universities will treat you the same as every other applicant, but they will be looking for something that makes you stand out when it comes to your academic potential.
Talk to your chosen universities
Although it is the applicants responsibility to detail any provisions or services they may require, your school, college or institution of choice can often assist you during this process. Therefore it is a good idea to contact each university option before you submit your UCAS application. Thanks to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), higher education institutions cannot discriminate or show prejudice against students with disabilities for applications and support services.
Actively getting in touch with universities will give you a better idea on how well equipped they are to deal with your requirements. The vast majority of universities will have dedicated departments or staff who deal with disabled students on a daily basis. Be pro-active and ask whether you can meet up with them during a university open day. They may even be able to arrange a meeting or chat with a current student who has a similar disability.
Even before you start your UCAS application, you can get in contact with Student Finance regarding a range of disability-related support. If you have a disability, long-term or mental health condition, or specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia you can apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). This payment is regardless of your income situation and is purely based on your disability. This funding is paid on top of any other student finance you receive and does not have to be repaid.
DSAs can help pay for the cost of specialist equipment like computer software, non-medical helpers for taking notes or reading, extra travel costs and other education related services. During your Tuition and Maintenance Loan application, Student Finance will ask you to contact an assessment centre to attain a report listing equipment and other support you require.
For details on DSA eligibility and further information visit the government’s dedicated website – https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas.