Guidance for prospective students with disabilities | University of Oxford

Guidance for prospective students with disabilities

Why is it important to tell us about your disability early and apply for support before you arrive?

Educational institutions have a duty under the Equality Act (2010) to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable disabled people to study effectively.

The University makes some adjustments in anticipation of disabled students’ access requirements, but we appreciate that individuals are different and further changes might need to be considered and implemented.

Any disability declaration will be dealt with confidentially and sensitively and will not influence the admissions process. Your application will be assessed solely on academic merit. If you tell us what concerns you anticipate, then we can discuss appropriate solutions.  Adjustments can be made and support requirements taken into consideration during the interview process if necessary.

The systems for supporting disabled students at Oxford may be different from those that you have experienced at school, college or other universities, so it is always best to be in touch.

If you make a successful application and are offered a place, please contact the Disability Advisory Service as soon as possible so that they can start to help you explore how the University and college might meet your individual needs. There is no need to wait until your examination results are announced. It will help you to plan properly and get things in place before your arrival, so you can get on with enjoying student life and all it has to offer.  

Study support is developed around your individual circumstances, which means that you have a say in what equipment or study support will be most helpful to you, but you also have responsibility for thinking about and letting us know what you might need.  This can be difficult as it is not always easy to know what life at the University is going to be like before you get here.  However, there are a lot of people who can help you through the process and contacting the Disability Advisory Service is a good starting point.

Funding for disability support

We recommend strongly that UK students make an application for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). The Disability Advisory Service will be happy to assist with this process if necessary. It can take several months from the point of application before full support is implemented, therefore the earlier you apply the better.

Students who are not eligible for a UK Disabled Students Allowance should in the first instance seek funding from their own country, funding body, sponsor, research council or other source. However, if there is no funding available, the University makes provision for students who require disability-related study support. Please contact the Disability Advisory Service for more information about accessing this support. 

Undergraduate college procedure

If you have been allocated a college which presents difficulties due to your disability, the Disability Advisory Service will work with you and your college to establish whether reasonable adjustments can be made to accommodate you. If the situation cannot be satisfactorily resolved you should contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office to request a change of college.  Such changes are made only in exceptional circumstances and you will be required to provide supporting medical information about your disability.

Visiting the University and colleges

It is advisable for all students considering applying to Oxford to come for an informal visit to view the colleges and department of your choice.  This will give you a good idea about the accessibility of buildings and other services, their proximity to where you will be living/studying and will also give you the chance to ask any questions relating to the impact of your disability on your studies.

You may also like to come to an official open day when most colleges and departments will be open to visitors and when you will have the opportunity to talk to academic tutors and current students. There are three annual university-wide open days; two usually take place during late June or early July, and the final one in the middle of September. Please contact the college or department in advance if you would like to attend a University open day and have particular access requirements or you would like to meet the college or department disability co-ordinator.

If your disability means that you cannot attend an open day, you can also contact the Disability Advisory Service directly who are happy to coordinate one individual day visit to the college, department and libraries you will be most likely to use.

Access around the University

You may like to refer to the University Access Guide for information on buildings around Oxford, and to explore an interactive map of the city centre.

Detailed information about access to specific buildings is also available from individual colleges and departments.


Most colleges provide rooms for undergraduates in their first year, and some can accommodate students in their second/third year.  Most colleges have a limited number of accessible/ground floor rooms with en-suite bathrooms.  You may need arrangements made for a carer, or require an adjustable desk and ergonomic seating.

If you wish to live in college we recommend that you organise a visit to look at the accommodation to establish whether any adaptations (temporary or permanent) are necessary.  This should be arranged via the Disability Advisory Service as soon as possible because adaptations can take a while to organise. It may not always be possible to adapt a room to meet all your needs, but colleges are always willing to look at the possibilities.

The University Accommodation Office provides information about accommodation in the private sector for all students.  Students with partners or dependent children should contact the Office as soon as they have been accepted as University-owned accommodation may be available.

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