If you’re thinking about studying a Masters, it’s a good idea to consider how your disability, learning difficulty or illness might affect your studies. We’ve listed a few of the things you may want to bear in mind when choosing a Masters, such as how the location, area and university itself can accommodate your needs.
- Where you’ll be studying – will you be able to travel there conveniently?
- Could the area you move to affect your health?
- Accessing health services – can you be treated locally?
As per the UK Equality Act (2010), public locations (like university buildings) should be accessible for people with a disability, whether this means providing lifts, escalators or additional services.
However, you may still want to check that buildings for different modules are a manageable distance from each other, telling the university about any potential issues.
Applying for a Masters degree
You don’t have to disclose any disability or illness when applying for a Masters degree.
Do note, however, that a university can’t discriminate against you for anything you do disclose.
Making your disability clear on your application can also be beneficial if you suffer with a physical disability such as visual impairment, or a hidden disability such as dyslexia.
For example, minor grammatical errors or spelling mistakes may be forgiven – but your application will have to fulfil all the relevant criteria just like any other student.
Should I disclose?
When deciding whether to inform your university about your disability or illness, it’s worth considering some important factors:
- Discrimination – Your university can’t discriminate against you based on a disability or health condition. Therefore, you should not worry that disclosing this information will have a negative impact on you. However, your university can’t be held liable for discrimination if you haven’t disclosed an illness or disability that could affect your studies.
- Impact – If your disability or illness will have little impact on your studies, you may not feel it necessary to disclose. Remember that some illnesses and disabilities can be unpredictable, though. Disclosing your situation to your university will provide a safety net for any future problems you might encounter.
- Benefits – There are many benefits to telling the university about your situation. Institutions put lots of procedures in place to support disabled students, meaning university life could be made easier for you. Letting your university know that you have a disability or illness means they can support you throughout your studies, and ensure you get all the help you may need to succeed.
Disclosing any issues to the university’s disability services also means that a report of your condition can be sent to your tutors discreetly. This avoids any possible embarrassment you may feel about discussing it outright.
Do bear in mind that the more your tutors understand about how your condition affects your studies, the better they can support you. Being open and honest about your disability or illness will help yourself and your tutors come to an agreement as to how to manage your academic work effectively.
What to do if you think you may have a disability but haven’t been diagnosed
It isn’t always the case that students know of their disability or learning difficulty prior to starting university.
This is because some disabilities affect individuals in ways which wouldn’t obviously point to any specific impairment.
For example, dyspraxia is a hidden learning difficulty which can affect mood, concentration, and co-ordination – characteristics you may put down to other factors such as tiredness or general clumsiness.
However, your university can help diagnose learning difficulties and hidden disabilities.
QuickScan is used by many universities to assess whether a student may have a possible learning difficulty or ‘hidden’ disability such as dyspraxia. It is an online test that asks you to answer a few simple questions, taking roughly 15 minutes to complete. The software is accessed via your university’s online services.
If the software suspects you may have a disability, you will receive a summary which you can present to your university’s student services, who will then give you a voucher to be fully assessed by a psychologist without charge to yourself. The psychological assessment usually takes two to three weeks to arrange, and lasts around two hours.
Once a psychologist has assessed you, you should receive a full report within two weeks.