Guidance for staff on student administration and support
Making the transition to University life can be hard for all students: getting used to living away from home for the first time, adjusting to a new learning environment and new academic expectations, the pressure felt to make friends, among many others challenges.
This time may be particularly challenging for students with disabilities. Students commonly have been used to parental support to help them with tasks related to the impact of their disability, and the increased independence of University life can be challenging – for e.g. liaising with new personal care providers, liaising with DAS to put in place study support, applying for DSA funding are all added burdens disabled students may have to manage which their non-disabled peers do not.
Some principles to be aware of when planning support for new students:
Common adjustments that are put in place to assist with student’s transition to University are:
Students may wish that a parent stays with them in this period to help them get used to their environment, especially where there is a sensory or mobility impairment, or other complex needs. Early visits as an offer-holder enable the student to get to know key people and places, so that when the course starts they have a strong base of familiarity on which to build. It can also enable them to identify, in conjunction with Disability Coordinators and their disability advisor, any additional challenges they have in their specific environment of the college and department, whilst there is still time for adjustments to be put in place prior to arrival.
Students with Visual Impairments often benefit from early arrival into their accommodation (up to 1 week early). This enables them to learn the key routes within college, and between teaching venues. If they have a guide dog, this provides time for the dog to be trained in the environment and for the student to meet with key individuals in the college and department, which will help them feel more settled in their first few weeks, when there are getting used to managing their impairment within a new environment (for example, using new equipment, accessing library catalogues, having building inductions for each building they will access, getting to know their study assistant).
Students with the following conditions are mostly likely to need tailored support during transition to university:
Decisions about early arrival or enhanced orientation should be made on a case by case basis: individual students will have differing needs (for example any two students with autism will have very different needs relating to transition to university).
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Good practice example: Supporting students with the transition to University
Guidance on supporting transition to University by the charity Student Minds
The information on this page is available for you to download as a pdf
Disability Advisory Service