This section is here to provide you some advice and information about being a disabled student within Cambridge University. It is very much under construction and if you think there are important things we have missed or errors you find then please contact the Disabled Students’ Officer. If you want any further support or information from us then please do contact anyone within the exec for this.
There is a lot of support available to Disabled Students within the University. The first point of contact about getting your access needs met is the Disability Resource Centre who can help you apply for DSA and other forms of support.
We’re here to support you as a disabled student in Cambridge: you can always contact any member of the Executive for support. We’re particularly useful if you’re not getting sufficient support or adjustments or are unsure of your rights.
Your college tutor should support you throughout your time here. If you have problems with them, then you can contact the Senior Tutor or another tutor in college, and can always ask to change tutors. If you have problems with a supervisor, or have tried changing tutors and the Senior Tutor has proved unhelpful, then the DSC, and the CUSU/GU Student Advice Service, can advocate with you. Student-led support and representation is always useful alongside support from academics.
The Disability Resource Centre exists to help with all your access requirements. They will aid you in having your requirements assessed, and in accessing funding. For home students, this will as of Michaelmas 2016 be the Reasonable Adjustments Fund (RAF) potentially combined with Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA); for international students, there is the International Students’ Fund (ISF). You can contact them on 01223 332 301, and their website contains lots of useful information.
Be willing to stand up for your rights, from supervisions in an accessible environment to food you can eat: access requirements can be broad, and any and all should be met, however unusual. You can come to us, the DRC and the CUSU/GU Student Advice Service for support ensuring this.
Whether your impairments are visible, invisible or multiple, you’ll need to decide how much to disclose to the people around you, particularly for your course. Disclosing relevant information as early as possible allows the DRC to help you to ensure that your access requirements are met throughout your time here, so if you haven’t disclosed to them yet, we’d recommend it. When you disclose to anyone within the University they need permission to pass that information onto others, so it’s worth letting them know if and how you want the information shared.
Getting one person to pass on anything that needs to be shared to all parties avoids explaining the situation repeatedly. You could ask your tutor to compose an email but make sure you’ve checked and are happy with it before sending it. For graduate students, a supportive supervisor is crucial, so it’s a good idea to discuss your access requirements with them early on.
What you disclose, and who to, is entirely your choice: if someone asks questions you’re uncomfortable with, feel free not to answer. It’s worthwhile thinking through what to disclose – no one has any right to know more than necessary for them to adjust appropriately, so you can choose to disclose as much or as little as makes you feel comfortable.
Whether you’re a graduate or an undergraduate, deadlines can usually be pushed back. Explaining that your need for flexible deadlines is an access requirement will help, without any need to relate your full medical history!
There are several sources of extra funding for students who need it: please take a look at our funding page. If you are having general financial problems then most colleges offer emergency funds. If you have disability related costs not covered by your DSA then various funding sources may be available to you, a current list of some of these is at www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/disability/students/finance and most can be accessed via the DRC or your tutor.