1There is financial support available to help students with additional needs
2UK equality laws require colleges and universities to make reasonable adjustments to help you
3At colleges the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) is a good starting point for possible support
4Universities have disability support services to provide help
5If you had support for special educational needs at school this can sometimes continue after the age of 16. Note: what happens is different for different parts of the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – more on this below)
- Being upfront with staff and other students about your epilepsy and how it affects you, can help with getting the right support and understanding. For more on this see the telling others page
- A letter from your doctor or epilepsy nurse describing how epilepsy affects you or why you might need certain reasonable adjustments can help you to access support
- Young Epilepsy have an Epilepsy Friendly Mark for higher education institutions. This might help you with the decision about where to study. Institutions that hold the mark have people in place to provide support for people with epilepsy
- Choosing what to study is as important as where you will study. Consider what will suit you. Are you better with group work, lectures or practical work? Do you prefer course work or exams? What are the career opportunities after the course?
- Be aware of your seizure triggers and have a plan for how to do your best to avoid them. This will go a long way to keeping you safe and healthy while studying
- If you will spend more weeks of the year at your student address than your family’s address, you need to register with a local GP. You can choose to register with any local GP. If your college or university has a student health centre that is likely to be the most convenient
Tips from others
Tell people. The sooner you are comfortable with opening up to your peers and tutors the more confident you will feel.”
Student support is there for a reason. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help if you think you need it.”
If it’s going to cause seizures, don’t feel pressured into going out and partying with people that you don’t know.”
Your flatmates become like family at uni. Let them know what helps you to manage. I found humour a good way.”
There’s lots of examples of where reasonable adjustments might help you while studying. Such as:
- Living in a halls of residence where there are staff onsite
- Having notes provided or making sure you have a ‘catch-up session’ if you miss a lecture because of a seizure
- If you have photosensitive epilepsy, making sure materials being used won’t trigger your seizures
- Having lectures recorded, so that you can listen again
- Having written instructions and feedback provided
- Flexible deadlines to finish your work
- Support with exams – this needs to be organised well in advance
If you’re not getting the support you think would help you – it’s OK to ask. Find out who is responsible for supporting students who have disabilities at your place of study.
In addition to the loans available to pay for tuition fees and living costs (maintenance loans) you may be eligible for further financial help. Grants and bursaries available for disabled students include:
Disabled Student Allowances
The Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs) are available to cover extra costs related to undergraduate education as a result of having epilepsy or another disability. It won’t cover costs that any student might have such as course fees or accommodation. But it might mean getting money towards equipment or having a note-taker provided for lectures, for example.
Applications for DSA are available if you live in England, and have a disability affecting your ability to study.
The Money Advice Service website explains more.
To check if you are eligible and to apply visit the gov.uk website page about Disabled Students’ Allowances.
16-19 Bursary Fund
If you live in England and you’re aged 16 to 19, you might be able to access a bursary to help with education-related costs.
This fund is available for people:
- Studying at a publicly funded school or college in England – not a university
- On a training course, including unpaid work experience
To check if you are eligible and to apply visit the gov.uk website page about the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.
Education Maintenance Allowance
If you plan to study in
- Northern Ireland
You may be able to claim Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). In England this scheme has closed.
To check if you are eligible and to apply visit the gov.uk website page about the Education Maintenance Allowance.
The benefits you might be able to claim if you’re in further education depend on if you’re studying full-time or part-time.
Learn more on the Money Advice Service website.
Access to other benefits changes if you are a student. The benefits which may be affected by being a student are:
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Carer’s Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Universal Credit
- Housing Benefit
Find out more on the Turn2Us website
Help with additional learning needs after 16
If you had support at school for additional learning needs, it’s a good idea to check what might be available when you leave school. It’s quite complicated, so we can’t give you specific advice, but here’s a starting point on info for the different parts of UK. You can also ask the college or university you are going to for advice.
Stories by you
Rachel shares her experience of being a student with epilepsy
Read Matt’s tips for being at university
UCAS have a range of videos with guidance and information for disabled students about what is available.
Watch on the UCAS website – Note: use the ‘Related videos’ link to see them all.
There are a lot of decisions to make when considering whether to study. Doing your research will help.
Here are some things to consider:
- Do you want to live with family, live independently or move somewhere close to your family?
- What support will help you to stay safe and be successful with the course?
- For places you are interested in, find out where the halls of residence are, where your lectures will be, where the students’ union, library and health centre are and what student support services are available
- For the course you are interested in find out how it is run and assessed, where the lectures will be held, and what job options the course might lead to