Choosing a university
Once you have finished sixth form or college you may be considering applying to university. This is a really exciting time and may even involve moving away from home and living alone for the first time. It's important to think ahead to make sure that you choose the right course, the right university and most importantly to make sure that everything is in place and ready for your first day. This means you can start your course without having to worry about any issues to do with your equipment and support needs and concentrate on making friends and settling in.
Selecting a university
When considering your university, think about the following things:
Discuss course options
Discuss possible course options with your careers adviser, subject tutors, support staff and parents. Find out what qualifications and work experience you would need to do the job you want!
Look at the UCAS website.
The UCAS website offers information on courses, institutions and entry requirements.
Look at the university website
Every university has its own website. This will give you information about their courses, social activities and halls of residence. There will be specific pages which tell you about the extra support and types of assistive technology and access software available within the library.
Arrange a visit
There will be open days advertised on the university websites. However, you may want to contact the disability/ student support service directly as you might be able to go and meet them at the same time. This is really useful as you can meet the staff in advance and ask questions about the types of support you'll be able to access and arrange a tour of the campus and accommodation. Many universities are very large and can include lots of different buildings, sometimes spread out over a considerable area with lots of staff and different departments. It's crucial not to be overwhelmed by this. It's important that you know exactly who is responsible for providing your support, for example who within your subject department will be producing your materials in large print and organising your extra time for exams.
Course costs and the available financial support are likely to influence which university you select. Universities can charge up to £9,000 per year in tuition fees. You can cover the cost of your tuition through a student loan, which you only start to pay back when you are earning over £21,000 a year. It's worth remembering that you'll repay the same each month regardless of whether tuition fees are £6,000 or £9,000. However universities which are charging more than £6,000, have to put in place measures to support students from poorer backgrounds. You should also check what universities and colleges in England are offering through the National Scholarship Programme (NSP). NSP funding can be worth £3,000 or more, made up of fee-waivers, a free foundation year, cash of up to £1,000 and accommodation bursaries.
Disability or Student support service
At university, the responsibility is on you to make sure that you are receiving the help you need. However, all universities have a disability or student support team. This team can help with any issues or concerns you may have about university and it's a good idea to meet with them before or when you begin your course.
They will be able to talk about the support available at university, and can help you with applying for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). It is recommended that you apply for DSA in the summer prior to starting university, so that your support provision is in place by the time you start.
And remember that university is about more than your course - the social aspects are very important too, make sure you don't miss out with our student life section. Try to get involved at Freshers' Week and think about joining clubs and societies where you can meet people and make friends. If there are any problems, just get in touch with the disability or student support team at your university.
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