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Disability Resource Centre


Q. Should I disclose my disability?

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 in 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 requirements 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; the loan of specialist equipment, and adjustments to your accommodation. There is more information here

Please note that late disclosure will have an impact on the ability of the DRC to determine support requirements in time for the start of term. 

You can contact the DRC any time for a confidential chat about disclosing a disability.

Q. Should I use the Extenuating Circumstances Form and who is the form for?

The Extenuating Circumstances Form has been designed to ensure that the Cambridge Colleges have the information they require on undergraduate applicants in order to accurately 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 Form page.

Q. Which College is best for me given the nature of my disability?

Deciding which College is best for you is a personal decision. They all have 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) to discuss your requirements 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 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 the individual Colleges are available in the access guide.

Q. I have been invited for interview and told I need to take an admissions test. How do I get adjustments for the 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.

Q. 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 advise on their individual support requirements. We recommend you encourage your son/daughter to contact the DRC to speak confidentially to a Disability Adviser.

Q. 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?

This is to enable us to ensure that any accommodation or location requirements you have are met when you are offered a College place.

Q. Do I need to get an updated Dyslexia report?

If you require extra time, or other adjustments, in exams, then you will need to apply for exam access arrangements by providing your College Tutorial Office with a copy of your SpLD diagnostic assessment report. Cambridge University's Student Registry has strict criteria which your diagnostic report must meet in order to be suitable for applying for exam access arrangments. To meet this criteria, the report must be:

  • written by a Practitioner Psychologist, or Specialist Teacher, who holds a Patoss SpLD Assessment Practising Certificate (or equivalent)
  • written in accordance with the SpLD Working Group 2005/DfES Guidelines and subsequent updates
  • a full* diagnostic report that makes a clear, definitive, diagnosis

*Please note that 'top up' assessments are not acceptable and nor are copies of the JCQ Form 8.

If your report does not meet this criteria, you may need a new report. If you are unsure if your report meets the criteria, email it to us and we will assess it for you.

Q. I need the DRC to complete Section 5 of my Disabled Student Allowances Application. What should I do?

Please complete the DSAs application form and post it to us, along with the required I.D. and supporting documents. We will complete Section 5 and post the form and your documents to your funding body by First Class post.

Q. Is my condition a disability?

The Equality Act (2010) gives the definition of disability as follows:

A person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities (Equality Act 2010, Section 6).

In the Act, a person has a disability if:

they have a physical or mental impairment (this includes specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, and other conditions such as Asperger Syndrome as well as physical and sensory impairments, and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety)

long term in relation to the definition of disability means:

  • it has lasted for at least 12 months,
  • it is likely to last for at least 12 months, or
  • it is likely to last for the rest of the life of the person