Services and support
Our experienced team are passionate about supporting disabled students, helping you achieve your potential and to fully participate in University life. If you are thinking of joining us do get in touch to ask any questions you may have relating to your disability. Once your place is confirmed we encourage you to register with us as soon as possible.
About our service
The Disability and Neurodiversity team are experienced staff passionate about supporting disabled students at university. Our office is located on the first floor of the Library, at the centre of the Stag Hill campus.
All our students are offered a meeting with a Disability Adviser to create a tailored Learning Support Agreement, discuss further support you may need and offer advice on the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA).
If you are entitled to one-to-one specialist study skills or mentoring from the University through the DSA, you can book your first session with one of our mentors. Sessions are scheduled to suit your timetable and take place in our newly renovated consultation rooms.
We have close contacts throughout the University including the Exams, Graduation and Accommodation teams, the Centre for Wellbeing and each of the academic departments. We can aid you in accessing their services and to obtain the information you need as seamlessly as possible.
Disability Service drop in times:
Monday - Friday 12 - 2pm and 4 – 5pm
Please do get in contact at any stage during your application to discuss the support we can offer. We strongly recommend booking an appointment, so that we can ensure someone will be available to talk to you.
To contact us, complete our Disability and Neurodiversity contact form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. From there, we can arrange a telephone call or a face-to-face meeting if you’re able to come to our campus.
Members of our team are always present at open days, so come and find us if you have any questions, wish to discuss the support we can offer or simply want to say hello! If you feel anxious about coming up to us on an Open Day get in contact in advance and we can arrange to talk somewhere a little quieter if required.
As we assess each student's needs individually, we are able to provide tailored support and adjustments for you. Below you will find the most common adjustments that are requested and offered for certain conditions. They are intended as a guide to inform you of some of the support we can offer but should not be considered comprehensive.
Every student at the University is offered a meeting with a Disability Adviser to create a Learning Support Agreement. We recommend contacting us during the application process to discuss your specific needs.
At Surrey we believe learning and teaching should be as inclusive as possible, accommodating learning styles to suit and empower every student.
For those with SpLD, including dyslexia, attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADHD), dyspraxia, and Irlen Syndrome, it may be necessary to adjust aspects of the learning environment, make exam adjustments and ensure your individual learning preferences are supported.
If you have had exam arrangements in the past, please send us your JCQ Form 8 (available from school or college) so we can advise you on your best course of action.
If you have previously had a full diagnostic assessment report from either a registered psychologist, or a qualified specialist teacher holding a SpLD Assessment Practicing Certificate – please send this to us.
Lectures, labs and tutorials
There are various adjustments that may be implemented on a case-by-case basis, subject to individual requirements. These could include reading lists and handouts in advance of coursework and lectures, permission to record lectures or seminars, lecture capture (where available) and extended library loans. Lighting may need to be dimmed and presentation backgrounds may need to be muted to avoid glare. We will consider with you what the most beneficial conditions will be to enable your learning.
Typical exam adjustments could include:
- Extra time for written exams
- Rest breaks
- The use of a computer
- A separate room
- Sensory (low) lighting
- Coloured question and answer papers
- Reader and/or a scribe.
We recommended reading our page on the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) as there is a range of assistive equipment available that may be beneficial to you. This might include note-taking and speech-to-text software and training, for which DSA will cover the cost of. In addition, you may qualify for a printing allowance, depending on your particular learning styles and preferences.
Students with SpLD usually qualify for one-to-one specialist study skills sessions. This is an opportunity to develop strategies for note-taking in lectures and for reading to increase your confidence in structuring assignments and to explore techniques for revision and exams that support your learning. These will be arranged at a time to suit you, depending on your timetable, and will take place in one of our consultation rooms in the Library. If you are not eligible for DSA please contact us as soon as possible as much of the support, including access to assistive software, can be arranged through alternative means.
We understand the diversity of autistic students and that some may have, for example, extreme social anxiety, difficulties in adapting to change, or have hypo or hyper sensitivities. We also recognise that everyone is individual and we, therefore, provide a range of ways in settling in and engaging in all aspects of university life. We strongly encourage autistic students and students with undiagnosed autistic traits to contact us before enrolment, so we can answer any questions before you arrive and signpost you to other services where appropriate.
We need a letter from your GP or other relevant qualified specialist confirming your diagnosis and outlining the impact it has upon your day-to-day activities and studies. Alternatively, we can accept a Statement of Special Educational Needs issued by a Local Authority. If you do not currently have evidence of a diagnosis, please see the section on undiagnosed disability for further guidance.
Lectures, labs and tutorials
Some of our lecture theatres are very large and can feel overwhelming. Ways we might be able to alleviate this include a request that you always can sit in your preferred area, to ask for lecture slides to be available in advance, or to arrange permission for you to record the lecture. Group work and presentations are features of most of our degree courses, and can be difficult when someone has social anxiety or finds it uncomfortable to interact with others. We can liaise with your department to find ways to support you to engage in these activities. With laboratory sessions we again can work with faculty staff to find ways to accommodate sensory difficulties or challenges working with laboratory partners. Many degree courses also have tutorials, some of which are discussions that students are expected to join in. We are able to engage with the departments to enable you to attend such sessions but without speaking until you are comfortable.
Typical adjustments may include some of the following:
- Extra time for written exams
- Rest breaks
- Separate rooms
- Sensory (low lighting)
- Readers or scribes.
We offer specialist mentoring and sometimes specialist study skills tuition to autistic students. This is usually funded via the Disabled Students’ Allowance. Although it can be daunting to meet with a tutor or mentor for the first time, we find students often choose to meet their mentor weekly at the same day and time during term time. The sessions are unique to you and your needs, but areas that might be addressed include:
- Communication skills
- Time management and organisation
- Engaging in lectures and other academic classes
- Preparing for and undertaking exams and other assessments
- Accessing university facilities and the management of living skills
- Management of anxiety levels.
The support is not subject specific and we do not proofread work.
Accommodation and parking
If you choose to live on campus in your first year, you may have specific accommodation requirements. There are a number of adjustments we can arrange for you including: supporting requests for ensuite rooms, to be allocated to a flat sharing with fewer students or to be located on a specific campus. We understand that moving into accommodation off-campus in your 2nd year can be very challenging and we can support students to remain on campus throughout the course where required.
If you need the use of a car while at University, you will need to apply for a parking permit. This gives you permission to park on campus every day, but it is not a guarantee of a parking space.
We understand that beginning university, moving into campus accommodation and Freshers’ Week can be a daunting experience. We have designed an early induction programme for autistic students to help you settle in.
Students on the induction programme are invited to move into their campus accommodation two days early for a structured series of events that includes:
- Orientation around campus
- Registering and obtaining your University ID card
- Meeting a member of your department
- Meeting key services including security and the Centre for Wellbeing
- Meeting Disability and Neurodiversity staff including our tutors and mentors
- Social activities including going out for a meal and visiting the Surrey Sports Park.
We can also provide guest accommodation for those students who wish to attend but are living off-campus. For further information, and to register your interest, please contact email@example.com and we can arrange for a Disability Adviser to call you to answer your questions.
We realise it can be difficult for autistic students to take part in university life beyond academic studies. We therefore offer weekly meetings during term time and we run a taster meeting as part of the induction programme. We focus on social communication and interaction, gaining confidence in joining clubs and societies and strategies for when working in groups or giving presentations.
The meetings are attended by a few students in each undergraduate year group and we find the students who have been here a year or two are happy to offer advice and guidance to new students. The meetings are themed for the first half and then there is an hour of board games for those who wish to join in. If you don’t want to chat that is fine - some students just like to attend and listen to what others are talking about, some come just occasionally when the theme is of interest to them, and some like to come to every session. Students report the meetings have made a huge difference to their enjoyment of university life.
Disability and Neurodiversity support students with a variety of mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia and many more. We want you to have a positive experience at university and we offer a number of services to help you manage your mental health and your studies. We also work closely with academic staff and the Centre for Wellbeing and can liaise with them on your behalf as required.
Please contact us to arrange an appointment with a Disability Adviser to discuss your needs and the support you may be entitled to. You will need to bring some medical evidence, such as a letter from your GP, care coordinator or other mental health or medical professional. This should explain your diagnosis and the impact your mental health has on your daily life and engaging with your studies.
Lectures, labs, tutorials and exams
During your appointment with a Disability Adviser we can discuss your condition and how it impacts on your studies. Adjustments can be put in place to help you to manage your work more effectively. These can include exam arrangements such as extra time, rest breaks and/or use of a smaller room. Your Adviser will also discuss adjustments your faculty can make such as tailoring how assessments are taken and having an awareness of the fact that you may miss classes on health grounds or to attend appointments.
Disability Advisers can support you with applying for the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA).
This could fund equipment and software to help you with your studies. It could also provide funding for specialist one-to-one mentoring support. This would be tailored to your needs but would usually take place on a weekly basis and could include help with managing your mental health condition, building confidence, organising your time and meeting deadlines.
If you are an EU or international student, you will not be eligible for DSA but we may be able to arrange equivalent support. Please speak to us for more information.
We understand that as a result of your mental health condition you may have specific accommodation needs. This may include a need for an en-suite room or being located on a specific campus. You will need to complete an application form explaining what your requirements are and why you need them. You will also need to attach medical evidence to support your request.
For further details about the accommodation support we can offer, or to obtain an application for preferential accommodation on medical grounds, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more general enquiries about the accommodation we have available at the University please contact the Accommodation team at email@example.com.
Mental health support group
We offer a weekly support group for students with mental health conditions and cover topics such as:
- Wellbeing and work/life balance
- Challenging unhelpful thoughts and thinking more positively
- Staying motivated
- Developing relaxation and mindfulness techniques.
Students have reported that they feel very supported by staff as well as each other, finding it helpful to share their experiences and discuss coping mechanisms. Please contact us for more information and details of where and when to meet.
The University of Surrey is built on a hill and we strongly recommend that all students with mobility difficulties visit the campus prior to attending. AccessAble provides information on access routes across both campuses and throughout buildings and services.
If your disability is visible, we won’t require evidence. However, a letter from your GP or other qualified specialist can be very useful in ensuring we provide the relevant support.
Lectures, labs and tutorials
The adjustments you need will be determined by your course. If it involves lab-based or practical elements we recommend you contact us at the earliest opportunity, ideally before starting.
Adjustments could include provision of an ergonomic chair for lectures and classes, or rest breaks while in lab sessions. We can arrange for classes to be on the ground-floor or accessible via a lift. In addition, the Library operates a fetch and collect service. You can contact them in advance with the list of books you require, then collect them the next day from the front desk.
Provision of an ergonomic chair and rest breaks are the most common exam adjustments for students with mobility difficulties. If your condition has an impact upon your writing, you may require extra time, use of a computer or a scribe. We also have height adjustable tables available for wheelchair users.
If you require a scribe, note taker, practical support assistant or workshop/laboratory assistant, please contact us prior to your arrival at Surrey. We can discuss your needs and ensure your support is in place prior to your course starting.
We also have mobility scooters available for student use. These can be loaned to you for any period from a day at a time to a whole semester.
Accommodation and parking
Provision of suitable accommodation can be particularly important and we strongly recommend you contact us at the application stage. We can arrange for you to be located on a specific campus, on a ground floor, and for your room to be an ensuite, have hoists or be modified to suit your specific needs. We can also provide rooms for carers.
We understand that as a result of your condition, the use of public transport may not be possible and you will need the use of a car. Parking at the University is at a premium and spaces cannot be guaranteed. You can apply for a parking permit on medical grounds. If you are a blue badge holder, please send us a scan of your badge. You will be provided with a medical parking permit, allowing you to park in disabled bays across our campuses.
If you have a sensory impairment, where one or more of your senses has been impacted and requires aid to function, you may require a variety of adjustments and support while at University. The severity and impact of sensory impairments vary greatly from person to person and therefore it is important to make us aware of your specific needs as soon as you can so that we are able to make appropriate and tailored adjustments.
Generally a letter from your GP outlining your condition is sufficient. We can also accept letters from relevant qualified specialists. The more information your GP or specialist is able to provide, particularly if there is specific support you require, the better able we will be to meet this need. Please note, that we are unlikely to accept appointment letters as suitable evidence.
Lectures, labs and tutorials
There are a number of learning adjustments we may recommend dependent on your visual impairment. We have alternative texts available for library resources and assistive technology that reads text from the screen. Course materials may be provided to you prior to your start date to ensure you have the materials in the form you require them to be in. The use of a braille printer may be offered on request as well. We will work closely with your faculty to implement reasonable adjustments in lab sessions and practical experiments to ensure the safety of you and others around you.
Support for a hearing impaired student may include making academic staff aware of any specific preference with verbal correspondence you may have and to ensure that you are aware of the induction loops available in the lecture halls. Specialist support including provision of a Roger Pen, notetaking, and interpreting may be available through different funding sources. A Disability Adviser can advise what you may be eligible for and how to obtain specialist support.
The most common exam adjustments provided for those with visual impairments are the use of a reader and a scribe or having exam papers printed in specific fonts and sizes. A height-adjustable table and adjustable chair can be offered in exams to allow you to determine the distance of reading and a table lamp to support this adjustment.
Dependent on your normal way of working, we may be able to place you in a smaller room to ensure that the environment of your exam is quieter and has less background noise. We work with the Exams team to ensure that invigilators are aware of the communication techniques they may be required to use.
The Disabled Students’ Allowance may fund you for a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, language support tutor for deaf students or sighted guide depending on your needs. We strongly recommend applying for DSA in advance of attending University to ensure support can be set up for when you arrive.
If you are not eligible for DSA, or the DSA fund doesn’t fully cover your support needs, they will still be met and no costs will be passed on to you.
If you choose to live on campus in your first year, you may require an adapted room or have specific needs such as being located on the ground floor, or needing en-suite facilities. You may also have specific accommodation needs if you have a registered assistance animal. Please contact us as soon as possible to ensure there is plenty of time for us to address your accommodation requirements.
There are a variety of medical conditions that have an impact on living and studying at university, including diabetes, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, epilepsy and many more. Each person experiences these conditions in different ways and so the support we provide will be individually tailored. We understand that you may feel uncomfortable telling us about your medical condition, but there may be a large amount of support we are able to provide that can enable you to attend and engage in university life more fully.
Generally a letter from your GP outlining your condition is sufficient. We can also accept letters from relevant qualified specialists. The more information your GP or specialist is able to provide, particularly if there is specific support you require, the better able we will be to provide that support. Please note, that we are unlikely to accept appointment letters as suitable evidence.
Lectures, labs and tutorials
Reasonable adjustments for medical conditions in lectures, labs and tutorials are hugely varied and would be tailored to your individual needs. They could include provision of an ergonomic chair, a note taker, a practical support assistant and regular rest breaks. A Disability Adviser will be able to recommend an array of adjustments dependent on your individual needs.
As with reasonable adjustments for lectures, labs and tutorials, exam adjustments for medical conditions may be equally varied. They could include extra time, rest breaks, use of a computer and permission to bring in food and drink. A Disability Adviser can discuss with you the exam adjustments available to you.
We recommended reading our page on the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) as there is a host of specialist equipment available that can be very beneficial. Some students may additionally qualify for a travel allowance through the DSA.
Accommodation and parking
If you choose to live on campus in your first year, you may have specific accommodation requirements. There are a number of adjustments we can arrange for you, including supporting requests for ensuite rooms, permission to have a mini-fridge in your room or to be located on a specific campus.
We understand that as a result of your condition, the use of public transport may not be possible and you will need the use of a car. Parking at the University is at a premium and spaces cannot be guaranteed. You can apply for a parking permit on medical grounds.
If you are a blue badge holder, please send us a scan of your badge. You will be provided with a medical parking permit, allowing you to park in disabled bays across both campuses.
If you have never been diagnosed with a disability (including specific learning differences, mental health or medical conditions, sensory and mobility impairments and autism) but feel you may have an undiagnosed condition we can offer a meeting with a Disability Adviser. They will signpost you to potential diagnosis and subsequent support, as well as to sources of support you can access without a diagnosis.
We advise you to see your GP as a first point of contact for medical conditions. Guildowns is the doctors surgery on campus and we encourage all new students to register with them on arrival. We can write a referral letter for your GP to begin the process of accessing support and getting a diagnosis.
Mental health conditions
If you have concerns about your mental health we encourage you to make an appointment with your GP. We understand this can be difficult and can provide further advice as well as information on local external services that provide support. We also encourage you to contact the Centre for Wellbeing. They provide emotional and wellbeing support for all students at the University.
Specific learning difficulties eg dyslexia
If you suspect you may have a specific learning difference (SpLD) such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or AD(H)D, please book a screening with our service. A screening consists of a series of questions, a general chat and a few short exercises. If you are showing key traits of a SpLD, we will refer you for a full diagnostic assessment. If following this assessment, you are diagnosed with a SpLD, we can discuss possible support available to you which could include examination adjustments, one to one support and specialist equipment through the Disabled Students’ Allowance.
Although we are unable to refer you for an assessment for autism, we can refer you to your GP, asking them to investigate. Unfortunately the waiting list for a diagnosis can be lengthy. If you are referred on for a formal diagnosis, we can discuss what support we can offer you in the interim.