Disability & SpLD

If you have disclosed a disability or learning difference, our specialist team of advisers can work with you and academic colleagues to provide an accessible learning experience.

Our aim is to encourage and foster independent learning by enabling you to develop the strategies, skills and knowledge to support you on your chosen course of study.

We will work with you to:

> Consider your learning needs in relation to your chosen course of study.

> Support you to apply for and receive the external support you might be entitled to.

> Signpost and refer you for additional assessments, if required.

Disability FAQs

  • How do I declare a disability or additional support need?

    You can declare a disability or support need on your course application, once you have accepted your offer of a place, once you have enrolled or at any time during your course.

    If you have already started your course, you should contact the Disability team via the Gateway desk located in the Library.

  • What should I do before I enrol to ensure support is arranged for the start of my course?

    If you feel that you have individual accessibility issues, you should contact the Disability & SpLD team as soon as possible so we can discuss and consider these with you, prior to the start of your course.

    It’s important that you can begin your learning journey at UCA confident that everything is in place to support you and your studies.

  • What about funding?

    In many cases, UK students applying for higher education courses may be able to apply for the Disabled Students Allowance.

    Students applying for further education courses can have their needs assessed at the University and we will in turn provide support where possible.

    If you are in any doubt about financial arrangements or funding, please contact the Disability & SpLD team.

  • International students

    To be eligible to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance you need to hold home residency status.

    If you are an international student, you should seek advice on what support you might be entitled to from your home country. You could also consider what other funding may be available through grant giving trusts and charities. Further information can be provided by our Specialist Advisers.

    Further information on fees, funding and support for international students can be found on the UKCISA website.

  • What is a DSA needs assessment?

    The aim of the external DSA needs assessment is to discuss and recommend the type of support you might require on your course. There are several Needs Assessment Access Centres around the country.

  • What support is available for students with a disability?

    We have a team of experienced and trained support staff who can work with you to understand your requirements and what you might need to support your learning.

    This could include accessibility and on-course reasonable adjustments, external specialist support and access to specialist equipment and resources.

    For example, adjustments for students with hearing impairments could include:

    • Installation of loop systems in lecture theatres
    • Improved signage across all colleges to aid the location of facilities
    • Special communication and safety equipment in the halls of residence
    • Co-ordination of support such as interpreter, communication support worker and/or notetaker
    • Personal evacuation plan.
  • Parking

    The Disability team will be happy to arrange for a dedicated parking permit for students with mobility difficulties.

Disabled applicants with Educational Health Care Plans or High Needs Funding

  • Entry criteria and level of course

    Before you make an application, it is important you feel confident that you can meet the academic entry criteria for your chosen course, as UCA does not offer any qualifications below Level 3 (A level standard). Our entry criteria can be found at the links below:

  • The learning environment – what is it like to study here?

    Before you consider UCA as an option, we recommend that you visit the campus where you would like to study.  With our FE courses running alongside our Higher Education courses, we have a very diverse mix of students and our campus and course spaces are large, bustling, busy places.

    We are not able to offer small dedicated learning spaces for quieter/ smaller group learning, but we can help you to find a quiet space in the Library to work or arrange for you to have some 'time-out' if needed.

  • Pace of learning

    The pace of learning may be faster than you have previously experienced. Our courses are composed of a series of units covering a variety of projects with set timescales for completion. Our courses are delivered from several different types of spaces so you will be required to move studio spaces for each different pathway of study in your first term. This can be quite challenging, particularly if you find a change of routine difficult or confusing. We can of course help you through the rotation period and provide some additional guidance (for example, planning your study timetable or helping you find different studio spaces).

    Teachers are on hand throughout the day to help with questions but are not able to offer individual tuition or work with smaller groups. 

    As a student, we will expect you to be able to work independently alongside what we deliver in terms of teaching input. This can be a struggle if you have come from an environment where you have been given more direction and guidance, although we can help with planning ideas for projects and developing timelines to help you stay on top of your work.

  • Transitions support

    When you are looking at places to study after your current provider, we can help you to decide whether UCA will be suitable for you. We are happy to:

    • Arrange visits to UCA for you to look around the campus and speak to teaching staff and support staff
    • We can come to your school and speak to you, your teachers and support workers about your requirements.
  • Application process

    All Further Education colleges have a slightly different application process and its important you understand how this works and what you need to do and when. At UCA, we will need to see a portfolio of your work and you will need to attend an Applicant Day. You will also need to provide a personal statement as part of your application. All the information you need can be found on our website.

    We also advise that you make early contact with your campus Learning Support Manager to discuss whether you need any reasonable adjustments for your Applicant Day.

  • If you have an Education, Health & Care Plan

    It is important to let us know if you have an EHCP as early as possible. This helps us to be able to work with you and ensure that what you may need for the course is agreed with you and available to you.

    However, before we can formally consult with your local authority on whether UCA is a suitable placement for you and can be named within your EHCP, we would expect you to:

    • Be able to demonstrate that you can meet the minimum academic entry criteria for the course you have chosen
    • Have made an application to UCA and attended an Applicant Day
    • Have received an academic offer, given to you based on the quality of your work submitted in your portfolio.

    We will work with you and representatives from your current provider and local authority to ensure that we are able to support your learning so you can be successful with us. 

    Obviously, it is in everyone’s best interests to understand if UCA is going to be the right provider for you, so it is important that we understand your needs fully to assess whether we are able to provide the range of support you might require.

  • What support can UCA provide?

    As a university, UCA delivers mainly Higher Education courses with some Further Education provision. As such, our services are mainly geared towards adult learners and we are not able to offer some specialist provision that you may have become used to in your last school or college. It is important that you can understand what we do offer within our standard provision and whether this is suitable for you.

    This does not mean that we cannot provide you with support, but we will work closely with you and your local authority to agree a support plan and funding package achievable by UCA, mainly delivered by external partners, working on our behalf.

    In class support

    We can provide in class support – for example to:

    • Help with prompting with tasks
    • Providing additional explanation for learning tasks (such as helping you to break down the assignment into manageable chunks)
    • Some assistance with practical tasks such as setting up or moving equipment.

    We aim to work with you to develop your own independent learning skills and will help you to develop techniques to do this. We would normally expect in-class support to reduce over time as you develop these skills. UCA disability staff also offer drop-in times so you can check with them if you are unsure of anything.


    If you are required to undertake Maths or English GCSEs, we can provide access arrangements as required by external regulations. We will assess your needs and your normal ways of working and apply for arrangements which could include:

    • Additional time
    • Separate room
    • Reader
    • Scribe
    • Rest breaks

    Note takers

    We do not provide note-takers as normal practice. However, if your EHCP and normal ways of working indicate you will need this, we will work with the local authority to add this to the support package. We do however encourage the use of assistive technologies and also work with teaching staff to provide notes on our student learning portal.

    Learning materials

    Learning materials are provided on the student learning portal and these can include lecture notes, Powerpoint presentations and assignment briefs. As you will be working at Level 3 (A level equivalent), we do not expect you to need modified language materials such as pictograms or Easyread. We can however provide you with training on assistive technology packages such as text to voice/voice to text software.

    You will be expected to undertake independent research to contextualise your practical work, and to write essays and learning journals. We will provide you with help to understand research techniques and how to use the Library. We also have an accessible formats service if you have difficulty with printed text.

    Specialist support/therapy

    We do not have in-house specialist support or therapy services (for example speech and language), therefore we would need to work with you and the local authority to add this to the support package and arrange this with external providers.

    Specialist teachers

    Our teaching staff are industry professionals who also hold teaching qualifications. Teaching staff may also be accredited by specialist external agencies, thereby having a broad understanding of special educational needs. We will work with you to see if you need any additional support and can, for example, arrange sessions with external staff such as Teachers of the Deaf. 

    Assistive technology

    We aim to work with you to make the best use of assistive technologies, for example text to voice software. We have Dragon Read and Write available on our network, and there are many accessible features on Microsoft Office that we can support you to use.

    If you have any specialist software requirements, it is important to let us know as soon as possible – for example, Jaws, Zoom, etc.

    Dedicated areas for learners with a higher level of support need

    We do not have any dedicated areas but will work with you to find locations within the building that may be quieter for your needs at that moment in time. 

    Personal care

    Our staff provide learning support services. If you require personal care support, we will work with you and the local authority/social services to discuss requirements and the support package available to you.


    We have qualified first aiders on site who will be able to administer epi-pens in emergency situations (CHECK). However, our staff are not trained to administer other medications to students, so it is important that you are able to self-medicate, without support.

    We can make our first aid rooms available to you to administer medication in private, but we are not able to store your medicines for you. If you require medication, it is best to discuss this with us in full as part of your application process. 

    Independent living training

    As part of our induction processes, we provide workshops for students on healthy lifestyles, student wellbeing and keeping yourself safe.  

    If you need more intensive support to assist you to build independent living skills, we can discuss this with the local authority, but this is not something we can deliver ourselves.

    Independent travel

    Learners will be expected to travel independently to our campus locations, as we do not provide student transport. We can offer bursary support for learners, but you will need to make an application, and this is means tested.

    You will need to consider how accessible the campus is for your daily travel – what the rail and bus links are, and what the journey to the campus is like. This is particularly important if you have mobility difficulties, or visual impairments as some of the campus locations are a distance away from rail stations and may have steep hills, subways or other challenging environments for you.

    If independent travel will be difficult for you, we advise you to check with your local authority whether you can apply for a travel grant or if they can offer independent travel training.

Dyslexia FAQs

Our Disability & SpLD Support Team, part of Library & Student Services, is experienced in giving advice on the support available to students with dyslexia.

  • What is dyslexia and how can it affect your study?

    "Dyslexia is a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing." - The British Dyslexia Association

    Dyslexia can occur at any level of intellectual ability and its effects can be alleviated by skilled specialist teaching and committed learning.

    If you have dyslexia, you may experience difficulties in one or more of the following areas:

    • reading
    • organising and expressing ideas in writing
    • spelling, grammar and punctuation
    • handwriting
    • note-taking
    • time management, and
    • memory
  • How do I declare dyslexia?

    You can declare you have dyslexia on your application, once you have accepted a place, once you have enrolled or at any time during your course.

    If you have already started your course, you should contact the Disability team via the Gateway desk located in the Library.

  • How is dyslexia tested?

    A diagnostic specialist is usually the person who tests for dyslexia. Student Finance England will normally only accept reports prepared by diagnostic specialists so it is best to ask about the qualifications of the person who tests you.

    A dyslexia assessment will last just over an hour. You will be asked questions about your previous learning and your study skills. There will be a series of written exercises that are designed to identify where support is needed.

    The diagnostic specialist will then write a report that will include a statement about whether dyslexia is part of your profile.

  • What should I do if I think I'm dyslexic?

    You should arrange to see the Dyslexia Advisers via the Gateway located in the Library on your campus. We will discuss your strengths and weaknesses in confience, and find out what choices are available to you.

  • What support is available?

    We have a team of experienced and trained dyslexia support tutors and facilitators who work with students on a one-to-one basis on areas of need such as essays, dissertations and study skills.

  • Should I tell my course that I have dyslexia?

    You are encouraged to make your tutors aware of your particular needs. If you feel uncomfortable with this, or wish the information to remind confidential, please discuss this with the Dyslexia Adviser.

    For those on courses with written examinations, it is important that you contact the Dyslexia Adviser to discuss what concessions may be possible.

  • What about funding?

    In many cases:

    • UK students applying for higher education courses may be able to apply for the Disabled Students Allowance.
    • Students applying for further education courses can have their needs assessed at the University and we will in turn provide support where possible.

    If you are in any doubt about financial arrangements or funding please visit the Disability team.

    International students

    You cannot claim the disabled student allowance if you do not have home residency status.

    You should see what other funding may be available through grant giving trusts and charities. Information on this is provided by the Specialist Advisers and Careers Advisers. Further information on fees, funding and support for international students can also be found on the UKCISA website.

  • What is a DSA needs assessment?

    The aim of the DSA needs assessment is to discuss and recommend the type of support for might require on your course. There are several Needs Assessment Access Centres around the country.

  • Remote assessments during COVID-19

    Students who believe they may have dyslexia can now receive a remote assessment (Evaluation of Need), rather than having to source a face-to-face assessment during these Covid-affected times.

    As the longest-standing dyslexia charity in the UK and with a reputation for the highest standards, the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity would be very happy to help anyone with an Evaluation of Need if they think they need one as evidence for a Disabled Students’ Allowance application. This would also be accepted by the Student Loans Company (SLC). 

    Whilst this would normally cost £475, if students can demonstrate financial hardship or if they come from a low income background, bursary support may be available.

    An Evaluation of Need report will provide results of your current attainment needs. This will include recommendations for reasonable adjustments, including examination arrangements. This will not include a formal diagnosis of a specific learning difficulty.

    For further details and to book an Evaluation of Need, please contact the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity.

Useful information

Disability & SpLD Glossary

You may find that UCA uses different terminology regarding Disabilities and SpLDs than you are used to. Our glossary will explain what these terminology mean and how we use them.

Support for Success

Our handbook for applicants with a disability or specific learning difference.

Needs Assessment

We wish to work effectively with Needs Assessment Centres, so have produced an overarching statement to provide information on our current offer for students with disabilities and SpLDs.

UCA NMH Provider Statement: COVID-19

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, UCA has undertaken a thorough review of its activities and will be restricting visitor access to all of its campuses. 

Accessibility of our campuses: Canterbury & Epsom

The AccessAble website has detailed information about the accessibility of our campuses.

Accessibility of our campuses: Farnham & Rochester

The AccessAble website has detailed information about the accessibility of our campuses.

Service Statements

Service Statements provide more information on what we can offer you in terms of service provision, reasonable adjustments and further advice and guidance. 

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs)

Contact us

Email: disability@uca.ac.uk 

Tel: +44 (0)1227 817 455

Tel: +44 (0)1372 202 431

Tel: +44 (0)1252 892 926

Tel: +44 (0)1634 888 714