The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against students of any age with a disability, including a long-term condition such as M.E. This means that reasonable adjustments should be made to accommodate students with M.E. in all education provision, from learning and assessment to student support.
Your institution's Disability Office or Student Support Service should be able to provide information and advice about their obligations.
Amy, who has M.E., studied for a full-time MSc in Health Psychology at the University of Nottingham. She told us:
“My university have been incredibly supportive. I have a special disability liaison tutor and they have arranged for me to have a parking permit as I have been living off campus since my first year. When I have been really bad, they have offered a minibus service around campus which will take me from where I park to where my lecture is. When I had a bad relapse in my second year, the university provided me with a note-taker to sit in on my lectures until I was better. All I had to do was listen and do the work afterwards in addition, I was given an extension on a piece of coursework.”
James was diagnosed with M.E. in his third year of a chemistry degree at the University of Bristol. He told us:
“Initially, I felt that I might be asking too much from the university and didn’t ask for everything that could have helped me, making things harder for myself. In reality, I found that university staff were more than happy to listen to me and help me with my requirements and limitations. I think they were probably grateful when I was clear about what I wanted as this helped them do their job properly and meant that they didn’t have to guess what it was I needed.”
For many young people with M.E. the thought of going to university can be overwhelming. You may be concerned that you won’t manage on your own, that you won’t have the energy to study, or about how people may react to you having the illness. Alternatively you might decide to try to ignore your M.E. and go anyway. This is not an ideal solution and one you need to think carefully about and discuss with someone who knows you and understands M.E. and how it affects
Please remember you can always get in touch with us for information and support: we are here to help. We have also listed some potentially useful organisations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on our Useful contacts page.
With the right planning and support, for many it’s still possible to go to university and study your chosen degree. The information below can help you make your choices.
People with disabilities should have the same opportunities for accessing education as people without a disability. A disability, as described in The Equality Act 2010 is, a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial, long-term (a year or more) and negative impact on normal every day activities. You may be considered disabled if M.E. affects you in this way.
A university can’t refuse you admission just because you have M.E. Find out more about disability rights and education. However during your visits identify which universities have a good understanding of M.E. and are more open to supporting you, then you can be certain of an environment that meets your needs. This may mean accepting your second or third option and making it your first!
You can apply for Disability Student Allowance, which can be used to help pay for the costs of specialist equipment related to your disability, for example a computer if you need one, non-medical helpers, extra travel, and other disability-related costs of studying. How much you get depends on your individual needs – not your household income – and it doesn’t have to be paid back. There are criteria about applying for Disability Student Allowance, which are:
You can ask for help with coursework and exams. Speak to your university’s student disability team, which is usually located in the student’s office. They can give you advice on individual arrangements and information that you will need to supply in support of your application.
Examples of individual arrangements include extra time, a small exam room, or use of a computer or scribe for your exam. You can also get extensions on essays and be excused from course trips and low attendance. Make sure you apply early, as you may need to provide medical evidence as to why you need individual arrangements.
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