Disability Resource Centre (DRC)
Should you decide to apply to Cambridge, here are a few common questions answered.
- Should I disclose my disability?
- Should I use the Extenuating Circumstances Form?
- I have been invited for an interview and told I will need to take an admissions test. I have received extra time and been allowed the use of a word processor in previous examinations; how do I ensure I will get these adjustments in this test?
- Which College is best for me given the nature of my disability?
- I am the parent of a prospective student with a disability. What support is there availabe to us?
Here are answers to a few common questions that incoming disabled students may have before their arrival at Cambridge. If you have recently been made an offer of a place at the University of Cambridge for entry in the upcoming Michaelmas Term, please go to Before Arrival for important information for incoming students.
- The Disability Resource Centre has sent me forms to complete about my disability, but I've not been awarded a College place. Why complete them now?
- Do I need to get an updated dyslexia report?
- I have received information regarding Disabled Students' Allowances from the Disability Resource Centre. How do I apply?
- I need you to complete Section 5 of my DSAs application. What should I do?
- What support is available for International Students?
- How do I get exam access arrangements?
- How do I get a Needs Assessment?
- How do I find out if I'm dyslexic?
- How do I pay for a dyslexia assessment?
- Can I record my lectures?
The answer to this question is 'Yes' as we can support you best if you do disclose as early as possible. There is no disadvantage to doing so, it can only help you.
The University of Cambridge is keen to promote the benefits of disclosing a disability to all disabled students. You will be given the opportunity to disclose a disability on a number of occasions (for example, on your UCAS form), and you can disclose at any time during your studies here. The sooner you let us know the better, so that we can make any reasonable adjustments and ensure your support needs are put in place. Support you may be able to access upon disclosing a disability includes: a variety of grants/bursaries (including the Disabled Students' Allowances or DSAs), extra time in examinations, study skills sessions, a note-taker, the loan of specialist equipment and adjustments to your accommodation.
You can contact the DRC at any time for a confidential chat about disclosing a disability.
The Extenuating Circumstances Form (which has replaced the Cambridge Special Access Scheme) has been designed to ensure that the Cambridge Colleges have the information they require in order accurately to assess any applicant who has experienced particular personal or educational disadvantage.
You don't have to complete it, but it can be helpful if you have experienced substantial interruption or disruption to your studies as a result of your disability.
The Extenuating Circumstances Form should normally be submitted by the applicant's school/college by the 15 October application deadline. The form should be submitted to the Admissions Office of the applicant's chosen College or, in the case of open applicants only, to the Cambridge Admissions Office.
Further information about the form, and how it is used by Admissions Tutors, is available on the Extenuating Circumstances page.
I have been invited for an interview and told I will need to take an admissions test. I have received extra time and been allowed the use of a word processor in previous examinations; how do I ensure I will get these adjustments in this test?
Any support you have received at school, such as extra time with tests, can be mirrored at interview. Interviews are arranged by the College Admissions Office, so you will need to discuss this with the College you are applying to.
Deciding which college is best for you is a personal decision. All cater for a very diverse range of students and individual needs can be catered to. The Colleges are more alike than different, but as a disabled student you might want to do a little more research. We would also recommend visiting your preferred college(s) and discuss your needs with them prior to making an application.
When choosing a college you may wish to consider:
- building accessibility
- en-suite facilities
- catering facilities
- accommodation for a live-in PA
- facilities for a service dog
- proximity to faculty/department or the city centre
- transport links, like buses services
The self-catering facilities can be limited in undergraduate Colleges. Colleges for mature students and graduates usually have kitchen facilities. College catering managers are used to catering for special diets and are aware of the risks of anaphylaxis, so your chosen College can almost certainly meet your needs.
We can also arrange for disabled students to visit to a range of colleges and academic sites with one of our Disability Advisers, so that you can see for yourself whether Cambridge would suit you. If you would like to do so, please contact the DRC as early as possible in the application process.
Details of individual Colleges are available via our Access Guide.
I am the parent of a prospective disabled student. What support is there available to us?
We are happy to answer any questions you may have, although we prefer to talk directly with the student about their concerns so we can help their individual support needs. We recommend you encourage your son/daughter to contact the DRC to talk confidentially to a Disability Adviser.
The Disability Resource Centre has sent me forms to complete about my disability, but I've not been awarded a College place. Why complete them now?
Please do not delay in returning these forms. If, for example, your disability means that you need accommodation of a certain type, or in a particular location, we will do our best to ensure any College place you are offered meets your needs. Copies of these forms are available on the Before Arrival page.
The Cambridge Board of Examinations has strict guidelines for what constitutes a valid report. To be valid the report must be:
- written by an Educational Psychologist, or Specialist Teacher, who has the Patoss SpLD Assessment Practising Certificate (or equivalent)
- no more than 3 years old on your entry to the University
- written after you were 16 years of age
- written in accordance with the SpLD Working Group 2005/DfES Guidelines
If your report does not meet these criteria, please contact us straight away to arrange a new assessment.
If you are unsure whether your report meets these criteria, please contact us to find out.
I have received information regarding Disabled Students' Allowances from the Disability Resource Centre. How do I apply?
Disabled full-time, part-time and postgraduate home students are eligible to apply for DSAs. Please see our Disabled Students' Allowances page for further information on the application process.
I need the Disability Resource Centre to complete Section 5 of my DSA application. What should I do?
Please complete the DSA application form and post it to us, along with the required I.D. and supporting documents. We'll complete Section 5 and post the form and your documents to your funding body by First Class post.
There are different procedures for international students in some circumstances, so we suggest you contact the DRC for further information. The International Disabled Students' Fund (IDS Fund) is open to all international (EU/Overseas) disabled students who have a confirmed offer from the University of Cambridge.
Please visit our IDS Fund page for further information.
Exam access arrangements must be organised by the Board of Examinations following an application from your college Tutorial Office, based either on medical evidence or on a Diagnostic Assessor's report (such as an Educational Psychologist or Specialist Teacher's report). The DRC can advise students who are seeking exam access arrangements, but does not have a role in making such arrangements.
For further information, please visit our Exam Access Arrangements page.
Also known as a Study Aids and Study Strategies Assessment, the Needs Assessment identifies strategies you can use to participate in all aspects of mainstream higher education (despite any additional requirements you might have as a result of your disability or specific learning difficulty). These strategies often include assistive technology equipment and specialist support.
Assessments are carried out in assessment centres throughout the UK. Please visit the DSA Quality Assurance Group (DSA QAG) website to search for your nearest assessment centre.
Please visit our Needs Assessment page for guidance on how to get assessed and the contact details for the two assessment centres in Cambridge.
Please contact the DRC to book an initial appointment with one of our Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) Advisers. If the adviser determines that you should have a full assessment with a Diagnostic Assessor (such as an Educational Psychologist or Specialist Teacher), you will be given the contact details of an assessor that adheres to the strict Cambridge Board of Examination's guidelines. If you prefer to find your own Diagnostic Assessor, please contact us first for the strict Cambridge Board of Examinations guidelines, to which your assessor must adhere.
An assessment costs around £400, depending on the Diagnostic Assessor. If you are unable to pay for it yourself, ask your college Tutorial Office about the Access to Learning Fund, which is means tested and could cover some or all of the cost.
The recording of lectures is generally considered to be a "reasonable adjustment" under the Equality Act (2010), for those students who are unable otherwise to take handwritten notes because of the nature of any disability. You will need to sign an agreement before recording lectures.
For further information and a copy of the agreement, visit our Recording Lectures page.
Full details of how to become a Non-Medical Assistant (NMA) are available on the Application Process page, within the NMA Scheme section of our website.
There is a small car park outside the DRC for staff permit holders. If you are a Blue Badge holder visiting the DRC and require a parking space, please contact us to discuss the possibility of accessing the car park. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee parking as spaces are used on a first-come-first served basis. The nearest public car park is at Lion Yard, off Pembroke Street. Limited Pay and Display and Blue Badge holder parking is available nearby on Trumpington Street.
Information about improving access to University buildings is available on the Access and Building Facilities page. The University Access Guide provides detailed information on access across the University and will have the current access details for your department. Please make sure to contact the DRC to ensure this page is updated after any improvements in access.
The DRC can give general advice within the University on applying the Equality Act (2010), which supercedes the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). If you would like to know more about the Equality Act, or would like to talk through a related concern, please contact Kirsty Wayland, Disability Development Consultant at the DRC: email@example.com or call 01223 766 903.
If you need legal advice, or have a complaint about the University, a good place to start would be the Equality and Human Rights Commission website.