Education is about far more than learning and can really help to enrich your life…Disabled people might regard studying for further qualifications as something potentially difficult and not worth the effort. However, with the correct help and support available for disabled students and the enormous benefits studying has, not just in terms of employability but also in building social connections and independence, it’s definitely worth considering.
On the face of it, education might seem to be based on finding out about things you didn’t know before. That’s a simple definition. Education gives people goals and purpose. It takes work and dedication but the outcomes are certainly worthwhile.
Education isn’t necessarily how you envisage it. Different options will appeal to different people, so if you don’t want to sit in a classroom or lecture hall you could opt for a distance learning or correspondence course. There are definite pros and cons to both methods including convenience and those associated with access and facilities – although there are usually solutions to the cons.
Similarly, as far as courses are concerned, there are hundreds of options regarding subject matter, and a range of levels to consider – a world of difference to studying the prescribed curriculum of your schooldays. Study what you want to study – and enjoy it!
One of the obvious motivators behind deciding to study is to improve your employability. Lots of companies and organisations are signed up to the Disability Confident scheme. Organisations (at level 2 of the scheme) commit to offering an interview to any disabled person that meets the minimum criteria of the job. In many cases this will include qualifications.
Furthermore, making the commitment to gain a new understanding or qualification in a subject is always admirable – not least by employers who, on the whole, are looking for people with a bit of ‘get up and go’. Also, people fresh from study are often regarded as having new ideas and thinking to draw on.
The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a grant that’s made available to help with the extra costs of studying people may have as a result of disability or a long-term health condition.
DSAs are not loans, so don’t have to be paid back, unless the student leaves their course early, although it’s important to remember that they are not a ‘benefit’ either so cannot be claimed for anything other than extra disability-related costs or expenses you have while studying which are over and above those provided as reasonable adjustments by the college or university.
There are four allowances covering different areas of need: specialist equipment allowance, non-medical helper’s allowance, general and other expenditure allowance and travel costs.
Going away to university can seem like a daunting prospect for a disabled person. For example, it may be the first time they’ve been away from home for a significant length of time, putting their resourcefulness to the acid test.
However, this backdrop to education makes it a truly holistic experience. Learning independence and how to live with other people, in halls of residence, etc, is a highly valuable experience.
Leaving home to go to university is not a gamble based on how well you’ll survive. Colleges and universities will have staff trained to help disabled people reach their full potential as students – and this includes aspects such as making sure educational facilities are correct and accommodation is appropriate – as well as other parts of the experience, such as accessing leisure facilities and so on.
Ask many people and they’ll tell you that they feel confined to their current career path, rather than inspired by it. They’d give anything to have the time and resources to make a change based on re-qualifying. If you’re able to do so, you’re actually in an enviable position to look around and study towards your dream career.
Education can be enjoyable and satisfying – gaining a qualification or accreditation is really just the icing on the cake!
Further information about finding a university course…
Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)
Complete University Guide
For information about DSA, visit:
This video was compiled with the help of the InVideo video maker