April is Autism Awareness Month, with this in mind, Beverley Sykes from our Disability and Dyslexia Service talks to us about the Academic and Non-Academic support available for students at Worcester:

At the University of Worcester we welcome and support students with Neuro-diverse conditions such as: Autistic Spectrum Differences, ADHD, ADD and Asperger’s. We aim to be an autism friendly University. 

For many students, the biggest hurdle to university isn’t the coursework, lectures or studying, it's all the other parts of independent university life. Some of the main concerns reported by autistic students when they are thinking of coming to study at the University of Worcester are:

An Outside shot of a Standard Plus Hall
Moving into university accommodation can be a significant change
  • Staying in Halls of Residence
  • Coping with cooking, cleaning, food shopping.
  • Being able to say what they need and how they feel.
  • Coping with change
  • Understanding and navigating module choices
  • Understanding the physical environment
  • Finding their way around and getting lost
  • Making friends and socialising
  • Feeling homesick

We understand that considering studying at university, as an autistic student, can be a stressful, worrying and confusing time. We try to make the transition to higher education as easy and stress free as possible. We believe that with the right planning and support, autistic students can excel at university

We offer a variety of support to help with the transition to university and the throughout your time at uni. Our aim is to give you a safe environment in which to study.

Open days

Open days might be the first opportunity to look round the university. They are a great way to assess the environment, social opportunities and support offered. You are able to look at accommodation, the eating facilities and lecture rooms. You might use this to get a general feel of the university in terms of your sensory needs and as to whether you could cope with the environment.

Open days can be overwhelming and busy, so we offer additional days to that are quieter and easier to manage.

Possible Support Available:

The Disability and Dyslexia Service Team

We have a friendly and supportive staff that are happy to answer your questions.

Our Disability Advisers offer appointments to prospective students as well as current students. It is never too early to start thinking about the support options and what university will be like for you and you are not limited to the amount of appointments you can book. who can discuss how your Autism affects you and explain what support arrangements may be suitable. We want you to feel comfortable and ready to start university so you can contact us as much as you need to.

We can help you understand what Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) is and the support available through DSA and how to apply for that through Student Finance.

We can act as a liaison between the different university services such as; money advice, accommodation, programme advice, counselling and mental health services.

Disability and Dyslexia Information Days

The Disability and Dyslexia Team hold three Information Days a year, one in the late Spring and a further two in June and July.

These days are intended to help you have everything in place by the beginning of your studies at the University of Worcester.

At the Information Days students can:

  • learn more about what disability and dyslexia support is available at Worcester and how to access it.
  • discuss any support or transition concerns they may have with a Disability Adviser
  • go on a Campus tour of the St. Johns campus
  • meet other students plus staff from other departments in the University
  • attend workshops covering study skills and assistive technology

Residential Summer School for students with autism and Asperger's Syndrome

Our Residential Summer School for students with autism and Asperger's Syndrome have gone from strength to strength, with more students, staff and volunteers than ever joining us at this yearly successful event.

The Summer School is aimed at helping students with autism spectrum disorders prepare for starting university in September. We believe that attending the Summer School can make a big difference as it will help you to become familiar with the university during a quieter time.

The Summer School is an opportunity to:

  • Attend a taster lecture and participate in sessions to help you prepare for university life.
  • Meet other new students and learn from the experiences of current students on the autism spectrum.
  • Attend some social events and observe or participate in cooking workshops.
  • Get to know the campuses and the Hive, the city and University library.
  • Learn more about the support available to you and meet members of the Disability & Dyslexia Service, the Counselling & Mental Health Service, and the Student Support and Wellbeing Team.
  • Learn about what the Students’ Union can offer and meet the sabbatical officers. The Students’ Union offer a range of social opportunities and are always looking at ways to help students with autism, such as quiet areas on Welcome Weekend. They can help you look at the clubs and societies to see which ones appeal to you.
  • Experience staying for two nights in our AE Housman halls of residence (en-suite accommodation.)

Last years event was a little different due to the Covid_19 pandemic, with the stay in accommodation not available, but we still were able to offer a much of the content on line and with one day on campus.

If the summer school isn’t for you, we offer early induction alongside the information days.

Early Induction

Each year we arrange an early induction for those students who prefer a quieter introduction to University life. Students are invited to attend a small group induction programme at the University before the beginning of the usual Welcome Week.

Although this event is not compulsory, it may prove particularly beneficial for those who are uneasy about making the transition to a new study and social environment.

  • In addition to a presentation from the Disability & Dyslexia Service, there are a variety of workshops including those from the Program Advisory, Money Advice and Registry Services.
  • You can also have a chance to engage with the Student Support & Wellbeing team and tutors from your course during the social events we are running.
  • The early induction also includes tours of the campuses and the Hive (the university and city library).

Other types of support could include:

  • Consideration for exam arrangements
  • Student Support Plan, includes reasonable adjustments for lectures and exams
  • The mental health & counselling service
  • Help and advice regarding life at university available from other organisations such as: National Autistic Society
  • Halls: We can help support your accommodation needs
  • Practical support worker for orientation during first couple of weeks
  • Quiet spaces: Rest rooms- St John’s campus, Jenny Lind, City Campus
  • Students’ Union Disabled Students Network.

Above all we want your time at university to be fun, productive and without barriers. We hope the support we offer will help you to achieve your goals.

One of our current students created a presentation of an Autistic student’s perspective on studying at the University of Worcester which you can view below. 

Want to ask us some questions? Why not contact us on:

Telephone: 01905 85 5531

Email: disability@worc.ac.uk