Starting university

Preparing for your university studies can be an exciting time. University life provides lots of new opportunities and experiences, but the change can sometimes be daunting, too.

To make sure you have a positive start in this new phase of your life, it can help to prepare in advance.

On this page

Choosing the right course

When considering all the different university choices and courses on offer, it may be helpful to talk through your thoughts, expectations, personal wishes and goals with parents, friends and other people, so you can make the decision that is right for you. 

Your current place of study should have a designated person who you can talk to about your options. They can also help you decide based on your current course choices and expected grades.

Visiting universities

It’s important to visit all the universities you are considering so you can make an informed choice. The reality of a university could be quite different from how it looks in a prospectus. 

Your university visits should also include looking at all the accommodation options. You may want to consider the ease of access and proximity to teaching facilities, along with other things that are important to you.

During your visit to the university, you may want to arrange a meeting with some of the following key professionals and talk through your specific needs. 

Financial support

Students and their families need to consider how they will manage the costs of attending university, now that fees are standard across much of the UK.

Financial support is available for students with additional needs. For most, this comes in the form of Disabled Student Allowance (DSA), which is created following an assessment with Student Finance England (SFE). This assessment is known as a Student Needs Assessment. 

This assessment must be undertaken at an approved centre - ideally at the university where you intend to study. This also means professionals in your chosen university will be aware of your needs and how to support you. The agreed support for each academic year will be outlined in your DSA2 letter, which will be provided by Student Finance England.

You can claim DSA if you have a disability, which affects your ability to study. There is also no age restriction for DSA. 

Reasonable adjustments

To help you to access all the teaching, learning, exams and other assessments, your university may be able to provide a range of individual adjustments. 

Your university will work with you to put together an individual plan, detailing what adjustments you require. This is often referred to as a Reasonable Adjustment Plan (RAP). 

In order to receive a Reasonable Adjustment Plan (RAP) you will need to register with the Student Disability Service at your university. 

Make sure you try to put this in place as soon as possible, so your university will have enough time to implement all necessary adjustments. This is particularly important for examinations, as the Disability teams may be unable to process late requests for special exam arrangements. 
However, if you feel your exam performance has been negatively impacted, you may wish to talk with the university’s Welfare or Wellbeing Officer for advice on options available to you. You may be able to submit an extenuating circumstances form to outline how you feel you have been disadvantaged by the examination/assessment process. 

You are entitled to request a Reasonable Adjustment Plan (RAP) if you meet the legal definition for a disability, set out in the UK Equality Law. A disability is defined as any condition which has a significant, adverse and long-term effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

There will be different types of adjustments and support available, which you can explore to see which would best meet your own needs. 

Housing and accommodation

This aspect of university life requires a lot of planning and thought and getting it right can help you feel settled and able to study. 

In your first year, if you are studying away from home, you would usually live in one of the university’s halls of residence, or university-owned accommodation. We recommend that you visit your accommodation options as soon as possible.


Need more info

To find out more about this support in your area please call or email us

0800 781 1444