OVERVIEW

As a disabled student, you may be entitled to specific support that will enable you to have equal access to studies as your non-disabled peers. For education-specific support you will usually go to the Disability Resource Centre, who will through various funds be able to cover most if not all your academic support costs while studying at Cambridge.

You may have come to this page after hearing about changes to Disabled Students’ Allowances and how that might affect you as a student at Cambridge. The support available to Cambridge students absolutely has not changed, but what has altered is the way that support is funded. As you will see under “Funding for UK Nationals”, a lot of what was previously funded by DSA’s is now covered by the University. So, you don’t need to worry, as you will still be able to access all support via the Disability Resource Centre. In some cases, this change in funding has meant a massively reduced waiting time for the implementation of support – the quickest recorded case of funding allocation since the new system has been put into place is 3 minutes!

For general funding support for disabled people, further down this section there is advice on the kind of government, NHS and council support available.

FUNDING FOR UK NATIONALS

Information in this section is sourced from the Disability Resource Centre’s website.

Important Changes to Disabled Students’ Allowances

As of 2016/17 certain non-medical help (NMH) tasks are now the responsibility of University and are not funded by DSAs. The University and Colleges have established a Reasonable Adjustments Fund (RAF) which will help support the costs of the following NMH tasks:

Through the Disability Resource Centre:

  • Scribe
  • Proof Reader/text checker
  • Reader
  • Study Assistant
  • Note Taker
  • Specialist Transcription Services
  • Specialist Mentor
  • Specialist One to One Study Skills Support

Through your College or Department:

  • Examination Support Worker
  • Practical Support Assistant
  • Library Support Assistant
  • Workshop / Laboratory Assistant

What Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) can still pay for:

DSAs can help with the costs of:

  • Specialist equipment, such as computer, software and ergonomic seating/desking
  • Sighted Guides, Mobility Trainer, BSL Interpreters, AT Trainers, Electronic Note-takers, Support workers for Deaf students
  • Extra travel costs, which are required because you are a disabled student, such as taxis or mobility equipment
  • Other costs, such as books or ink

FUNDING FOR EU AND INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Information in this section is sourced from the Disability Resource Centre’s website.

International students may work with their Disability Adviser to access academic-related disability support, or simply fill in an application form for the International Disabled Students’ Fund (IDS Fund). Academic related disability support may include:

  • An independent Needs Assessment
  • Specialist equipment you need for studying, for example computer software or a digital voice recorder
  • Non-medical help, such as a note-taker or Specialist 1:1 study skills
  • Extra travel costs you have to pay because of your disability

Students and offer holders are encouraged to apply as early as possible so that any support requirements are in place for the beginning of term.

Undergraduate students from the Republic of Ireland may be eligible for the Fund for Students with Disabilities. Please contact us at disability@admin.cam.ac.uk to arrange an appointment with your disability adviser, who will need to make this application on your behalf.

WELFARE BENEFITS

Some disabled students are entitled to other welfare provisions, such as Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit. Be aware that your entitlements may well be different over the summer holiday from the rest of the academic year. Investigate whether this applies to you, and apply in plenty of time if it does. You may be able use the online Benefits Advisor to find out what benefits you might be eligible to before doing any more in depth investigation.

In April 2013, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was replaced with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) as the non-means-tested tax free benefit (meaning that it is not effected by any other income you have, nor treated as income for other benefits) which aims to cover the extra costs of a fully adjusted life.

FUNDING FROM THE COUNCIL AND THE NHS

There are various other bodies that may be able to provide you help in areas not directly related to the University:

  • Wheelchair Services are responsible for providing wheelchairs to people who need them, you need to get referred by your GP and then will be assessed to see what support is available. We suggest that you bring an advocate with you to the appointment, either or both of a friend who knows you and an professional advocate such as from Voice Ability. They should provide the wheelchair and if you need it a cushion and backrest. You may also be able to get additional funding from various funding bodies or, occasionally, your Disabled Student’s Allowance.
  • Council funded Personal Assistants and adaptations can be provided by the council if you have significant care needs currently not been met – this wouldn’t generally cover educational needs such as note takers in lectures but personal care needs such as help washing, dressing, cooking food and accompanying to events – or, if you are living out of college, adaptations to your accommodation. Again, this can be accessed via a referral from your GP.

FUNDING IN ADDITION TO THE ABOVE

There are a number of other funding sources available to disabled student, there is a guide to additional financial support for disabled students on the University website.

Additional to the information provided on the University’s funding support webpage is the Crane’s Charity. This is a notable source of support as several students are currently applying to the fund in order to pursue diagnoses of ADHD, as the 2-year NHS waiting list in Cambridge is now closed.