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Disability Resource Centre

DRC
 

Work in progress page.

FAQs - SpLD

 

I am thinking of applying to Cambridge

Q. Should I disclose my SpLD on application?

There are many benefits to disclosing your SpLD on application. For example, you can receive advice from the DRC and, if you are offered an interview, you can receive adjustments. The university welcomes applications from students with SpLD and your application will be considered solely on the grounds of its academic merit, so there are no disadvantages to disclosing.

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). The sooner you let us know the better, so that we can ensure your support requirements are put in place. There is more information here

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

 

Q Are there many students with SpLD studying at Uni of C? 

There are more than 1800 current students at the University of Cambridge who have disclosed an SpLD and are registered with the DRC. Around 1100 are current undergraduate students and 700 are current postgraduate students. This represents around 8% of all students at the University in total.

 

Q. Which Colleges are best suited to a student with SpLD?

All students with SpLD receive the same support from the University, regardless of the College they attend. Students with SpLD can therefore choose a college in the same way as students without an SpLD: choosing a college

 

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. Should I be assessed for an SpLD before I begin my studies?

Yes, we would advise you to have an assessment carried out before you start your studies. This will help to ensure that your support is in place on arrival. Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) in particular can take some time to process so applying early is advisable.
 

Q. Are there any particular criteria that my assessor needs to know about when conducting the SpLD assessment?

Cambridge University's Student Registry has strict criteria which your diagnostic report must meet in order to be suitable for applying for exam access arrangements. 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.

You would be welcome to share the contact details of the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) with your chosen assessor, who can, if they wish, contact us to ensure that the assessment they are conducting will meet the criteria of the University for the purposes of applying for exam arrangements and any other support. The best contact email to share with your assessor is: disability@admin.cam.ac.uk

 

Q. How can I find an SpLD assessor who can conduct my assessment?

If are not sure how to find a suitable diagnostic assessor to carry out the assessment for you, please email the DRC and we can give advice.

 

Q.  I need to take a pre-interview admissions assessment. How do I get adjustments for the test?

Please notify your centre of any requirements you have (such as extra time) when you register for the test. They will need a copy of your diagnostic evidence. For more information, please follow this link:

Cambridge pre-interview assessments  
 

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

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.

 

What do I do before I start University?

Q I have a diagnosis of a specific learning difficulty.  What support is available?

There is a range of support that you may be eligible if you have a diagnosis of SpLD. This includes course based adjustments (such as handouts in advance, permission to record in lectures), exam arrangements (such as extra time and the option to use a word processor), 1:1 study skills support, 1:1 mentoring support, and assistive technology (provided by Disabled Students’ Allowances for home students or the International Disabled Students’ Fund for international students). The precise nature of the support will depend on your individual circumstances and you would be welcome to discuss this with your Disability Adviser at the DRC.
 

Q. If I haven’t already done so, should I disclose my SpLD?

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 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. What evidence does the University require in order to put in place my access requirements, such as for exams?

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.  

 

Q. I had an assessment at school and was granted exam arrangements. Is that document sufficient for getting similar exam adjustments at University ?

Cambridge University's Student Registry has strict criteria which your diagnostic report must meet in order to be suitable for applying for exam access arrangements. 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 (which are commonly used at school for exam arrangements)

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 received adjustments for my exams at school. Am I eligible for the same at the University?

You should be able to receive similar support and adjustments at University to those you received at school. If the exam arrangements you received at school were in excess of the UK standard adjustments of 25% extra time, option to use a word processor and rest breaks, please contact your disability adviser to discuss this in more detail. 

Extra time in excess of 25% is less common in the UK than may be the case in other countries. If you are an international student and were awarded more than 25% extra time in exams, please be aware that Student Registry will need confirmation that your report shows an exceptional profile and compelling evidence of need for more than the U.K accepted maximum amount of extra time. Student Registry otherwise reserves the right to reduce the amount of extra time recommended by a diagnostic assessor to a maximum of 25%, if this is deemed appropriate when the report is judged against UK norms.
 

Q. Is there anything that I should do before I start?

The key things to do before starting are:

  •  Disclose your SpLD to the DRC by completing a student information form  and attaching a copy of your diagnostic report . The DRC will then endeavour to write a student support document (SSD) for you. The SSD notifies your college and dept of the impact your SpLD has on study and the adjustments that benefit you. For more information about the SSD please follow the link: student support documents
  • Disclose your SpLD to your college tutor and tutorial office and share a copy of your diagnostic report with your college tutorial office.
  • Apply for Disabled Student’s Allowances (DSA) as early as possible so that the equipment and assistive technology is available to you when you start.  Student Finance can take some time to process applications for DSA, so applying early is prudent. For more information about DSA and to obtain an application form, please follow the link: disabled students' allowance

 

I am a current student and I have a diagnosis of a specific learning difficulty. 

Q What support is available?
There is a range of support that you may be eligible if you have a diagnosis of SpLD. This includes:

  • Course based adjustments (including handouts in advance, permission to record in lectures),
  • Exam arrangements (such as extra time and the option to use a word processor)
  • Specialist 1:1 study skills support,
  • Specialist 1:1 mentoring support,
  • Assistive technology (provided by Disabled Students’ Allowances for home students or the International Disabled Students’ Fund for international students).

 This list is not exhaustive and the precise nature of the support you receive will depend on your individual circumstances.  You would be welcome to discuss this in more detail with your Disability Adviser at the DRC.

 

Q How can I make my department aware of my disability and access requirements?

Disclose your SpLD to the DRC by completing a student information form  and attaching a copy of your diagnostic report . The DRC will endeavour to write a student support document  (SSD) for you, which notifies your college and dept of the impact your SpLD has on study and the adjustments that benefit you. For more information about the SSD please follow the link: student support documents

 Please discuss your diagnosis, the impact on study, and adjustments that benefit you, with your college tutor and DoS.

 

Q How do I apply for Exam Access Arrangements and are there deadlines?

Applications for exam access arrangements, such as extra time and use of a word processor, are made by your college on your behalf. They will need a copy of  your SpLD diagnostic report to act as supporting evidence, so please pass a copy to your college tutor and tutorial office. The deadline for applying for exam arrangements is usually mid-Feb, but we would recommend that you provide your college with a copy of your diagnostic report at your earliest opportunity.
 

If you have a student support document (SSD) created by the DRC, and you have agreed that it can be shared, it will have been passed to your College tutorial office and this will enable them to apply for your exam arrangements on your behalf.

 

Q. I applied for exam arrangements last term or in a previous year - what should I do to get them this year?

If you have applied for exam access arrangements in a previous term or year, please check with your tutorial office that they will carry over to subsequent years. You shouldn’t need to provide your evidence again if you were granted exam arrangements in previous terms or years. Some Colleges apply for the exam arrangements automatically each year, so if they have been in contact with you about it, it should be fine.

  

Q. I have received an SSD from the DRC, do I need to do anything to apply for exam arrangements?

If you have received an SSD from the DRC (and agreed that it can be shared), or if you have passed a copy of your diagnostic or medical evidence to your College tutorial office, they should be able to apply for exam arrangements on your behalf.

 

Q. I may need adjustments for my marked coursework, such as extensions to submission deadlines - what do I do?

If you do not have exams but have assignments or a dissertation that you wish to request adjustments for, such as an extended deadline, you will need to discuss this with your college tutor/graduate tutor, who will be able to advise you of the process for requesting an extension. As part of this process, you may also need a recommendation for an extension on your Student Support Document (SSD). If you already have an SSD, please check if this recommendation is already on it. If so, please share it with your college tutor as part of your discussion. If this recommendation is not on your SSD or you do not have an SSD, please get in contact with your Specific Learning Difficulties adviser.

 

I am a current student and I don’t yet have a diagnosis.

Q. Does the DRC carry out assessments for dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD or other specific learning difficulties? 

Assessments for SpLD (including dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and ADHD) are carried out by Psychologists and Specialist Teachers who are independent from the DRC.   However, the DRC can provide you with a recommendation for an assessor that the University quality assures. Please email the DRC if you wish to request the contact details of the assessors who are quality assured by the University.

 

Please note that you are welcome to use an assessor of your own choosing if you prefer.  If you prefer to use an assessor of your own choosing, please share the contact details of the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) with your chosen assessor. They would be welcome to contact us to ensure that the assessment they are conducting will meet the criteria of the University for the purposes of applying for exam arrangements and any other support. The best contact email to share with your assessor is: disability@admin.cam.ac.uk

 

Q. How much is a diagnostic assessment and can I get help with the costs?

The cost of a diagnostic assessment with one of the University’s quality assured assessors in in the region of £425. If you are a current student and this cost is prohibitive, please speak with your college tutor as they may be able to give advice about any avenues for assistance with these costs.

 

Q. Can I apply for exam access arrangements while I waiting to be assessed?

If you are in the process of being assessed for a specific learning difficulty or ADHD, you will be unable to provide evidence yet. Please let your tutor know that you are in the process of being assessed and will provide the diagnostic assessment report or medical evidence as soon as you have it. They can then set up the application for exam access arrangements and submit when the evidence is available. In this case, please do not worry about deadlines. Just provide the evidence as soon as you have it.

 

Q. I have recently had an assessment. What should I do with the report?

As soon as you receive a copy of the report, please share it with your college tutor, tutorial office and your DRC adviser. If you are not sure who your DRC adviser is, please just email a copy of your report to the main DRC inbox: disability@admin.cam.ac.uk

 

Q. What support can the DRC offer once I have the report?

The DRC can offer a range of support. We can produce a Student Support Document that details the impact of your SpLD on student and makes recommendations for course based adjustments and exam access arrangements. For more information about student support documents and the recommendations they include, please follow the link: student support documents

 

In addition, the DRC can arrange any human support that has been recommended by your diagnostic assessor or DSA Needs Assessor. Examples of this type of support includes:

  • 1:1 study skills support
  • 1:1 mentoring support
  • note-taker
  • proofreading service

This list is not exhaustive and not all students are eligible for all the support listed above. The exact nature of the support depends on the individual profile and context. Please discuss this with your disability adviser at the DRC.
 

Q. What is 1:1 study skills and 1:1 mentoring support and how do I access it?

Students with SpLD may be eligible to receive 1:1 study skills sessions with a specialist SpLD tutor. The study skills sessions would be able to help you with efficient reading strategies, note-taking and with planning, organising and structuring your written work as well as with proofreading and with written expression. 

 For more information about study skills sessions, please follow the link: Study Skills guide

 

In addition, some students with SpLD (such as those with dyspraxia or ADHD) can also access 1:1 mentoring support. The mentoring sessions will be able to help you hone your organisation and time management techniques and assist with techniques to help with concentration and reducing distraction and procrastination. 

 For more information about mentoring sessions, please follow the link: mentoring guide

 

Study skills and mentoring sessions are funded by the University’s Reasonable Adjustment fund. To apply for  sessions please sign the application form and return it to the DRC (you can just type your name into the signature box, if that is easiest). You can read more about the Reasonable Adjustments’ Fund, and obtain the application form by following this link:

Reasonable Adjustments Fund

 

What funding is available?

Q. What is Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA), am I eligible and how do I apply?

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) is a non-refundable, non-means tested grant that can provide you with a range of assistive technology and equipment that could benefit you during your course.  All home students with a diagnosis of SpLD, who are studying full time undergraduate courses that last one year or more, should be eligible ( if you are studying a part-time Masters, you need to be on a course that would take no more than twice the length of the equivalent full time course). For more details about eligibility, please follow the link: disabled students allowances eligibility criteria. To obtain an application form, please follow the link: Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA)

 

Q I am a postgraduate student, can I apply for DSA?

Yes. Home students studying postgraduate courses are also eligible for DSA through Student Finance, although there are some additional criteria. For example, if you are studying a part-time Masters, you need to be on a course that would take no more than twice the length of the equivalent full time course). If you are receiving funding via a Research Council or NHS bursary, the process for applying for Disabled Students’ Allowances is different (as these are different schemes). Please contact the DRC direct for advice in these cases.

 For more details about eligibility, please follow the link: disabled students allowances eligibility criteria To obtain an application form, please follow the link: Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA)

 

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 supporting documents. We will complete Section 5 and post the form and your documents to your funding body by First Class post.

 

Q. I am an international student, what funding is available to me?

If you are an international student you can apply for the equivalent of Disabled Students’ Allowances via the International Disabled Students Fund (which aims to mirror DSA). For more information and to obtain an application form, please follow the link: International Disabled Student’s Fund

 

Q. Are there any other sources of funding that might help me?

The main sources of funding for students with SpLD are Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) and the Reasonable Adjustments’ Fund (RAF) as detailed above. If you need any other financial support, we would advise you to speak with your college tutor, who may be able to give advice

 The Medical Support Fund (Crane’s Charity) may be able to assist students with certain medical costs. This is administered via your college, so please speak with your college tutor if you wish to explore this avenue of funding. You can find more information about The Medical Support Fund (Crane’s Charity) by following the link Crane's Charity

 

Q. I have further questions, how do I speak with my disability adviser at the DRC?

If you can't find the answer to your question here, or need to speak to someone in more detail, please email the DRC

 

Current students are able to book an appointment with their Disability Adviser during term time on the DRC Appointment page on Moodle.  Outside of term time current students should contact their Disability Adviser or email the DRC to discuss any questions or concerns they may have.  

 

The DRC also offers a drop in service to help answer more general questions. For more information about the drop in service, please follow the link: drop-in service

 

Q. Who is my SpLD adviser at the DRC?

Helen Tully, Helen Duncan and Ken Ewing support all students who have Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and AD(H)D.  If you are not sure who your adviser is, please just email the DRC and your email will be passed to your adviser.