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Student Support: Learning Differences

Studying with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties

A specific learning difficulty (SpLD) is a difference or difficulty with some particular aspects of learning. The most common SpLDs are Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Disorder / Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia.

Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA)

You may claim the DSA in addition to your student finance loans and grants to cover any extra study-related costs you incur due to an impairment, mental health condition, or learning difficulty. It is neither a benefit nor a loan, so it doesn’t need repaying. The amount you’ll receive depends on your individual needs not on your income, nor that of your parents or partner. There are some restrictions on what you may use your DSA for, so check the details below carefully.

Are you eligible?
You are eligible for a DSA if you meet all the following criteria:

  • You are taking a full-time or part-time undergraduate or postgraduate course in the UK (including Open University and distance learning courses) that lasts at least one year.
  • You normally live in the UK.
  • You qualify for student finance.
  • You can prove you have a disability, medical condition, sensory impairment, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty which affects your ability to study.
    For more details about eligibility, see the gov.uk website.

You don’t have to have a confirmed place at a university before you apply for your DSA. We recommend you apply early so this in place before your course starts, but you can apply at any point during your studies. See the UCAS website for further details.
 

If you think you may have dyslexia or dyspraxia

You might find it helpful to book a 1-to-1 session with our Study Skills or Wellbeing Adviser for an initial chat about learning in general. They can advise you on study strategies. The Student Services Team can provide more detailed information about assessment availability, costs and the assessment process itself.
 
For other specific learning difficulties like AD(H)D, contact your GP or Student Services who will advise you how to get assessment.

If you have already been assessed

Make sure you get any 'reasonable adjustments' that you may be entitled to by submitting a copy of your assessment to the Student Services Team as soon as possible. Registry and Student Services work closely on 'reasonable adjustments' available to students, and they will give you some information about this process.

Do also have a chat with our Study Skills or Wellbeing Adviser - even if you have good learning strategies that have been effective through school and college, you are likely to need to develop them for university-level study.

Find out more:

Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a neurological difference and can have a significant impact during education, in the workplace and in everyday life. As each person is unique, so is everyone's experience of dyslexia. It can range from mild to severe, and it can co-occur with other learning differences. It usually runs in families and is a life-long condition.

It is important to remember that there are positives to thinking differently. Many dyslexic people show strengths in areas such as reasoning and in visual and creative fields.

Find out more about dyslexia:

 

Dyspraxia

Development Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Disorder is an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. It is an immaturity in the way that the brain processes information, which results in messages not being properly or fully transmitted. Dyspraxia affects the planning of what to do and how to do it. It is associated with problems of perception, language and thought.

Find out more about dyspraxia: