I am so glad that I took the leap to get in touch with the Durham Disability Support Service. All of the team have been very friendly, and in particular my adviser has helped me a lot - from getting in touch with my department, to offering me a one-on-one study skills session, as well as helping me with my application for the Disabled Students' Allowance. I feel that I can come and talk to her at any time. I really recommend the service if you think you would benefit from some extra help due to your disability.current undergraduate student
We want to make sure that all our students get the most from university life. By telling tell us about your disability as early as possible we can identify any support you might need, including any financial support you’re entitled to.
We have compliled some frequently asked questions that may answer some of the queries you have. If you have any other queries, or would like to discuss your support requirements with a Disability Adviser, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Information for Applicants
Should I declare my disability?
We want to make sure that all our students get the most from university life. By telling tell us about your disability as early as possible we can identify any additional support you might need.
The ideal is to tell us about it on your application form, so we can discuss your support needs with you before you arrive.
Once you have submitted your application to Durham University, you are also invited to complete our online form to tell us more about your disability. This will help us to set up any appropriate reasonable adjustments before you arrive.
If you haven’t told us about a disability before you arrive, you can contact us at any time to arrange to speak with a member of the Disability Support team.
Will it prejudice my application if I disclose a disability?
No. All offers of a place at Durham University are made purely on academic grounds. In accordance with the Equality Act 2010 we have a responsibility to offer appropriate support to students who have a disability, as defined by the Act.
What support is available?
Student Support needs are identified and recorded via a Disability Support Notification (DSN). A Disability Adviser will discuss your support needs and go through various aspects of your course to explore what adjustment may be needed to aid you with your studies. Examples of reasonable adjustments include library support (this enables you to take out short loan items for a little longer, and to have access to the Disability Support rooms in the library), the ability to request extensions for pieces of work should you need to. The DSN is then sent to your department and college, who will endeavour to implement the reasonable adjustments.
What support is offered to students with Asperger’s/Autism Spectrum Conditions?
There is guidance available on our specialist webpage.
Who gets a copy of the Disability Support Notification (DSN)?
Each academic department has a Departmental Disability Representative (DDR). With your permission, the DSN is forwarded to your DDR who coordinates the reasonable adjustments and acts as a link for any disability related queries within department. The DSN is also forwarded to your college student support officer to keep them informed of the reasonable adjustments that are in place.
How do I access the support and is evidence required?
To access the support, we do require medical evidence. We ask that the medical evidence is from a qualified professional, such as a GP or consultant. We ask for the medical evidence to be dated within two years, unless you have a chronic condition that was diagnosed at an earlier age.
For students with a Specific Learning Difficulty, such as Dyslexia, we require a Psychological Diagnostic Assessment, that meets the SASC guidelines. We do accept pre-16 reports, providing they meet the criteria.
You will need to meet with a Disability Adviser, so we can discuss the impact of your disability and the supports needs required. We can then put in place a DSN.
It is important to note that adjustments are not rolled over from school, so a meeting with an Adviser is required. We are open during holidays, so this can be done in the holidays, or during term time. If you are a prospective student, this can be done before your arrival in October.
How do I get alternative exam arrangements, and do they automatically roll over from school?
As part of the DSN process, we will discuss appropriate exam concessions.
The university has its own guidelines and deadlines regarding making reasonable adjustments for exams. Reasonable adjustments for exams are not automatically put in place or transferred from school/college. If you have declared a disability, you must make an appointment with Disability Support to discuss your requirements before these can be agreed. Please be aware, the exam adjustments agreed may not match those you had at a previous institution.
I have been told I need a full diagnostic assessment for a specific learning difficulty/dyslexia, but it’s not possible to get one with the present Covid-19 restrictions on social contact. What support is available to me?
If you do not have a diagnostic assessment report you can access a range of support across the university which is available to all students:
- Study support strategies from the Durham Centre for Academic Development: Online Learning course
- Online study skills resources here:
- Many departments offer an introduction to study skills for their subject areas
- Online software training and resources from the Computing and Information Skills service.
- A Counselling and Psychological Wellbeing service.
Recent guidance from Student Finance concerning applications for Disabled Students’ Allowance states:
‘In the context of the physical distancing guidance currently in place to reduce Covid-19 infections, the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee (SASC) has recently considered whether it is possible for diagnostic assessments for SpLDs to be carried out remotely rather than face-to-face. SASC has concluded that a full diagnostic assessment cannot be carried out remotely, but that it is possible for assessors to produce a professional interim evaluation of need based on a remote screening and diagnostic interview. This short SSIN is intended to clarify the Department’s position regarding what evidence the Student Loans Company (SLC) can accept to demonstrate eligibility for DSAs.
While under normal circumstances we would require a full diagnostic assessment of an SpLD to be submitted as evidence of eligibility for DSAs, we do not wish there to be a delay in students accessing the support they need through DSAs. We have therefore decided that DSAs applicants who do not already have a full diagnostic assessment for an SpLD will temporarily be able to submit an evaluation of need carried out in line with the SASC guidance, and that SLC will accept this as evidence of eligibility for DSAs.
This means that SLC will accept evaluations of need which have been undertaken up to and including 31 August 2020. Given the current uncertainties around the Covid-19 situation, we will keep this date under review and any extension to this cut-off date will be publicised. Students who have their eligibility for DSAs agreed on the basis of such an evaluation of need will not be expected to provide a full diagnostic assessment later on to confirm their eligibility, unless they make a new application for DSAs (for example, if they are currently on an undergraduate course and later on apply for DSAs for a postgraduate course).’
I would like an assessment for dyslexia. Can I arrange this with you?
We offer a screening for specific learning difficulty, which is available to registered students. We recommend you undertake this before paying for a full diagnostic assessment. Further information about the process of assessment is available here.
I cannot afford an assessment for dyslexia. Can the university help with this?
There is a University Hardship Fund which can help students who can evidence genuine financial hardship. It is means tested and available to registered students. Please contact your college for more information.
Can you recommend a psychologist to conduct an assessment for a specific learning difficulty/dyslexia?
Although we do not endorse any practitioner, please follow this link for some local practitioners in the North East Area.
Are markers aware of a student’s disability when marking an assignment?
It is important to note that assignments are marked anonymously, so the University has an Inclusive Marking Policy which can be found here:
How do I transfer colleges based on my disability?
Information on the procedure for a college transfer request can be found by following this link.
What is the DSA and am I eligible?
Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) is government funding, which can provide some significant support in terms of assistive technology and non-medical helpers.
If you are unsure of your eligibility, we would advise you to contact your funding body directly to seek their advice.
Information on the DSAs can be found by following the link here:
Information for Parents/Carers
Parents or carers of applicants are welcome to contact Disability Support for general information about the support offered by the University. In accordance with GDPR, sensitive personal information about a student’s disability and support needs may only be shared with the student’s explicit consent. For further information and the University’s Privacy Notice please visit https://www.dur.ac.uk/ig/dp/privacy/pnstudents/.
Parents/carers can help the applicant in preparing for their transition to university, for example:
- collating the evidence that is needed to get the support in place
- help make lists of questions with the applicant for their discussion with a Disability Adviser
- Assist the applicant with applying for an Open Day or informal visit to the university if required
- Aiding the applicant with the completion of the DSA application form (if eligible).
What evidence is required for a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD)?
We have a guidance leaflet available.
The support that I have received from the disability services team at Durham has been overwhelmingly positive, helping me get the most out of my experience and maximising my academic potential in exams. The team was extremely proactive and organised in arranging a meeting for me at a time that was suitable for me, to sort out extenuating circumstances for exams and explaining the services available to me as a type one diabetic. Settling into Durham was made so much easier knowing that I had the support of disability services and did not have to worry about my diabetes disadvantaging me in academic situations. The team were extremely helpful in understanding my specific needs and have made my experiences of exams in Durham as stress – free as possible.current undergraduate student