Blog post

Top tips for applicants with additional support needs

The following guidance can help you to get the best possible transition into university, particularly if you have additional needs.

By Jo Jones - 5 June 2020

Your university wants to provide you with the best possible support. The earlier you and your university begin to work together, the easier it will be to ensure that you have the support in place that you need to be successful. To help with this, inform your university of your needs at the earliest opportunity and share any current care/support plans that you have with the university student support team.

Your programme

To ensure that you are choosing the right course for you and will be able to be successful, you need to understand how your programme is taught and assessed and what you will be required to do. Ask detailed questions of your programme team about how the programme will be delivered and assessed, during the COVID-19 pandemic and afterwards. Remember to ask whether it includes fieldtrips and/or placements.

Talk to the programme team and the student support service about any adjustments that you may need, to enable you to study on the programme and ask what support they will be able to offer you.

If you are applying for a place on a professional programme, ask if there are any limitations to the adjustments that can be made.

The university

If it is possible, attend a virtual open day. You may want to check out how accessible the university buildings are for you and consider if this is an environment and culture in which you can thrive.

If you plan to move into halls of residence, ask if they have accommodation to suit your needs or will they need to make any specific adaptations? If adaptations are needed, is this achievable between now and the beginning of the academic year?

Explore the University of Derby virtually

Your support

If you need help with personal care, you can refer yourself to your local authority adult care for an assessment of your care and support needs (you should be able to find the details on your local authority website). They can organise to transfer existing support or set up support for the first time. They will also provide information and advice about aids and equipment, community-based services and other local agencies that may be able to help you.

If you are receiving secondary mental health care e.g. Community Psychiatric Nurse, at the earliest opportunity, talk to them and the university about transferring your support. Many universities have mental health services who can work alongside this support, to help you prepare for university and support you while you are a student.

NHS services at home may want to transfer your care and there may be a transition period whereby you will not see your Consultant or other secondary services. Agree a plan for managing this transition period.

If you use regular medication, order a repeat prescription and bring at least a month’s supply, to last until you can register with a GP, local to the university.

Preparing to come to university

Apply for all available funding including Disabled Students Allowances. You can apply for Disabled Students Allowance’s if you have a disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition, autism, specific learning difficulty like dyslexia or dyspraxia or are D/deaf. Learn more about disabled students’ allowances

If you will be living independently, for the first time, think about the skills you will need to manage this successfully such as budgeting, cooking, laundry, etc. If you aren’t confident about how well you can manage this, see if you can practise before coming to university or if there is someone who can teach you these skills.

If you know where you will be living plan out how you will get to university and back each day and if you have any specific transport requirements. Disabled Students Allowances can help with any extra travel because of a disability.

Many universities have events, prior to the start of term, for students with additional needs. Each event is different but may include moving into halls early, help to prepare for university and opportunities to meet other new students. Ask about whether your university provides an event that will help you to transition into university, improve your experience and reach your potential as a university student.

Applicants to Derby

It’s great you have applied to study with us here at the University of Derby.

We understand that the last few months have been very unusual for all of us and your ideas about starting university life may be looking very different to how you had hoped. We want to reassure you we are here to support you, to enable you to get the most out of your time whilst studying with us.

Organising Your Support

Our Student Wellbeing team are available to talk to you about your support options. If you would like to speak with an adviser from the Student Wellbeing team, you can book an appointment by emailing or by calling 01332 593000.

You may want to read our Student Wellbeing Confidentiality and Information Sharing Policy, or complete and return our Consent to Share Form.

Applying for Disabled Students Allowances

Have you applied for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)? If not, further information and an application form can be accessed on the government website.

If you have applied for DSA already and your Study Needs Assessment (SNA) has been approved, you can arrange to have your SNA here at the University of Derby (other providers are available). We are currently offering remote assessments enabling students to have assessments from home. Find out more about the University of Derby Assessment Centre.

Attend a Virtual Event

Prior to the academic year starting you can attend one of our events which are designed to give you the best possible start to your studies. Due to the current COVID 19 pandemic this year these events will be delivered virtually.

For more information and to register your interest for our Get Ahead and Forward Thinking virtual events please visit our website.

To register for Clearing in advance, go to: To speak to our Admissions staff call: 01332 592018.

For further information contact the Corporate Communications team at or call 01332 591891.

About the author

Jo Jones
Student Services Manager

Jo Jones is the Student Services Manager at the University of Derby. During her time at Derby she has overseen the development of a number of innovative projects, that have been recognised as national examples of good practice, in areas such as disability, mental health, autism, wellbeing in student accommodation, psycho-education and student wellbeing and learning.