having a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) at university
Getting a Diagnosis
Student Support Services (SSS) can support you with a diagnosis, whether you just need an updated post 16 report or have never been diagnosed before. You can do the pre-assessment on the SSS website. The cost of screening and assessment is subsidised by the University. The cost to students for the 2017/18 academic year will be £30.00 for the screening and £70.00 for the Educational Psychologist or Psychiatrist assessment. This is then usually reimbursed to you if you are diagnosed, if you are a UK student, through DSA (Disabled Support Allowance – A bursary to help you with your studies).
Student Support Service (SSS)
SSS can provide you with a wealth of support. You will have to disclose your disability to them and provide evidence and they will give you the option not to tell your school or anyone else in the university. SSS are a separate department and information cannot be disclosed to anyone without your consent.
All students who provide an up-to-date assessment of Dyslexia, or a diagnosis of Dyspraxia or AD(H)D are eligible for extra time in timed tests and exams with a substantial amount of reading or writing. The extra time awarded will be determined by the diagnostic report you provide the SSS with (e.g. Educational Psychologist's report or other medical evidence). The university will also put in place other concessions such as Reader, Scribe, use of a PC, or coloured paper for exam script and answer booklet, if these concessions are supported in your diagnostic report. Be aware it is not automatically transferred over from your A-Levels.
Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)
You can apply for DSA to cover some of the extra costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability. You can get the allowances on top of your other student finance loans. You won’t need to repay DSA. How much you get depends on your individual needs - not your household income.
2017 to 2018 academic year:
Type of student
Specialist equipment allowance
Non-medical helper allowance
Up to £5,358 for the whole course
Up to £21,305 a year
Up to £1,790 a year
Up to £5,358 for the whole course
Up to £15,978 a year
Up to £1,342 a year
Postgraduates can get a single allowance of up to £10,652 a year. These figures are the maximum amounts - most students get less.
What DSA can pay for?
You can get help with the costs of:
- specialist equipment, for example a computer if you need one because of your disability
- non-medical helpers
- extra travel because of your disability
- other disability-related costs of studying
You may get a new computer if you don’t already have one, or if your current computer does not meet the required specification. More information will be provided to you if you’re assessed as needing a new computer. You’ll need to pay the first £200, which is the minimum cost that any student is likely to incur when buying a computer.
You may be able for what is called a yellow sticker if you have:
- Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder
- Autism or Asperger Syndrome
Yellow stickers are stickers that you can stick on all the work you hand in, whether it be electronic or paper, to show that you have an SpLD.
Some tips about the use of stickers:
- The use of stickers is optional, but if you choose not to attach a sticker to an exam script you cannot later use lack of the sticker in an appeal.
- A sticker should be placed on the front of the answer book but should not cover any information printed or written on the page.
- When trying to use them on a blackboard submission you need to type yellow sticker in the comments box.
- On an evision submission there should be a question asking if you want to apply your yellow sticker.
- You must take yellow stickers to exams. They can be obtained from the front desk of SSS.
- You can also use the same physical stickers for physical hand-ins.
- If you forget to apply your sticker to your work contact your Hub immediately to advise them of the error.
Having a yellow sticker means that staff marking your work should follow different guidelines. These are:
- Be as clear as possible in giving feedback. For example:
- Provide clear explanations of what you regard as wrong with the work
- Wherever possible relate comments directly to marking criteria (students can then identify where they need to improve/where they have lost marks).
- If spelling, grammar and punctuation are included in the assessment criteria, state this, and be clear how poor spelling, grammar and/or punctuation affects the student's grade.
- Avoid multiple grammar, punctuation and spelling comments on a script.
- Avoid subtle innuendo and metaphor. Students often find it difficult to interpret what is meant and what they should do in response.
- Give praise where it is due.
Umbrella is the peer support group for students with disabilities. They have weekly meetings that you can attend which you can attend. I would recommend signing up on the SU website. It’s totally free and you will receive email updates about the meeting times and their social events.