Support available for students with disabilities - Inclusive Practice - University of Derby

Support available for students with disabilities

Student Wellbeing

The Student Wellbeing Team work with students who have declared a disability, at the earliest opportunity, to develop a personalised plan of recommended support. The earlier a student contacts the team to discuss the support available the better, as this allows the team to ensure the student is informed about the support that is available. Support for disabled students includes appropriate adjustments to teaching and assessments as well as support funded through Disabled Students’ Allowance such as one to one support and assistive software. The Student Wellbeing Team also provides useful information and advice on services and resources outside the University, as well as encouraging students to maximise their wellbeing through the Love Your Mind Campaign.
Contact details:

Summer School for Autistic Students

The summer school provides new students with the opportunity to become familiar with the university during a quieter period and begin to prepare for successfully managing their transition to university.

Specifically this summer school will offer –


  • An opportunity to experience a lecture and develop academic skills
  • A two night stay in the Halls of Residence and the opportunity to prepare a meal (this part is optional)
  • A talk from current students, with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, who attended the summer school last year, to hear about their experiences of university so far
  • An opportunity to begin to get to know other students and discover what is provided by the Students Union
  • A focus on different types of support available and how to make best use of these
  • An opportunity for a one to one meeting with someone from the Student Wellbeing Team to talk through any concerns and to develop an action plan for preparing for university
  • An invite to a workshop for parents/carers about preparing for transition to university.


The Summer School is a free event and all applicants whop declare that they have autism/asperger’s are invited.

Get Ahead – for students with Specific Learning Differences (SpLDs)

This year, for the first time, we held a separate Get Ahead event for students with SpLDs. The aims of the day were to increase confidence, motivation and sense of belonging, arrange support and to encourage students to take a more active role in their own academic development.

The day was structured to provide students with the opportunity to attend a lecture, a seminar, a workshop and finished with a number of tutorials facilitated by academic colleagues. We also piloted new interventions, to help increase student confidence and reframe their expectations and previous experiences, using a neurodiversity approach. This event will be delivered every September and applicants who have declared that they have a SpLD will be invited.

Improve Your Learning and Performance for Students with Specific Learning Differences - Programme

This course has been specifically designed for students with Specific Learning Differences. It helps students to identify their own strengths, improve their study skills and raise their confidence, so that they can improve their academic performance. The course is 6 weeks long and by the end, students have developed strategies, insights and practices that work specifically for them. Most benefit is be derived from attending all 6 classes but we understand that students may have competing commitments, so they can attend as many or as few sessions as they can.

Students receive a direct invite to the programme but it’s also helpful if staff sign post students as well. They do not need to book.

Get Ahead Event for students with disabilities

Get Ahead is a two day event coordinated by the Student Wellbeing Team, which takes place in September, just before the start of the academic year. The event is for any student who has a disability, long term health condition, specific learning difficulty (e.g. dyslexia), an autistic spectrum disorder or mental health condition, and aims to offer the student the best possible start to their studies at the University of Derby. The event provides opportunities for students to become familiar with the University and the local area, move into Halls early, meet academic and support staff, enroll early and ensure support is organised for the start of their course.

The Disability Co-ordinator

All colleges and departments have a Disability Co-ordinator. They share generic duties but some have specific college responsibilities. Some of these include:


  • Have a good understanding of their college/department in order to represent its views and requirements.
  • Be active in training and development offered by the Disability Co-ordinators Group and disseminate this.
  • Have enough influence to embed outcomes within their own department. 
  • Act as the contact person for students/staff around issues relating to disability.
  • Co-ordinate information relating to disability across the college.
  • Co-ordinate the provision of information and equipment relating to college specific activities.
  • Attend the Disability Co-ordinator group meetings once a month.
  • Raise awareness of the University services available to students with disabilities.
  • Establish and maintain networks within the University to exchange information and share good practice.


Equality Officer - Disability (Students’ Officer)

The Equality Officer (Disabilities) is a student elected by the student body to represent the needs of all students who consider themselves to have a disability. The Equality Officer is part of the student Union and campaigns to raise awareness around disability related issues affecting students. Previous officers have campaigned on subjects such as changing attitudes towards disabilities, accessing needs throughout the University and more disabled friendly student social activities.

What Financial Support is available to students with disabilities?

Disabled students could be eligible for Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA). These are grants to help cover the extra course costs students might face because of a disability, on-going health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty.

For example, DSAs can help pay for:

  • Specialist equipment required for studying such as computer software 
  • Non-medical helpers, such as a note-taker or reader 
  • Extra travel costs a student has to pay because of his/her disability 
  • Other additional costs such as photocopying or printer cartridges


DSA is available for students studying part time or full time and there is no age limit. The amount students receive is based upon the amount of support they require, not their household income. The student does not have to pay DSA back and it is not counted as income when working out whether a student receives benefits or Tax Credits. Further information about eligibility and the support available can be accessed here:

How to apply for DSA

It is important that students start their application for DSA as soon as possible as the process might take some time. If a student is unsure of the process or needs help completing their application, they can contact the Student Wellbeing Team, where a member of staff can help them through the application process.

Step 1
A student applies for DSA to their student funding body. This will depend on where you are resident and the type of course you will be studying. Further information is available at the link below. Students need to ensure they include evidence of their disability with their application. Examples of this may include: a recent Doctor’s letter/hospital report, a recent audiogram report, a registration card (for visually impaired students).

Step 2
Once the eligibility for DSA is confirmed, the student will receive a letter asking them to have a DSA Study Needs Assessment. At the appointment the Assessor will discuss how study can be made more accessible to the student and identify the support and equipment required. The University of Derby has an accredited Assessment Centre and therefore the Study Needs Assessment can be carried out at the University, in order to ensure that support is in place when the student begins his/her studies. Following the assessment, recommendations will be made to the funding body who then confirm to the student in writing what they will fund.

Where can I find out more information?

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Learning and Teaching Conference 2018 - Call for proposals

The Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) is pleased to announce the call for proposals for the Learning & Teaching Conference 2018. All staff are invited to submit using the online form below for consideration by the conference review panel. Proposals need to be submitted no later than 12 noon on 22 May 2018.