Statement of policies and provision for students with disabilities


The University of York is committed to a policy of equal opportunities and seeks to ensure that those with disabilities have access as far as reasonably possible to the full range of academic, cultural and social activities which the University can offer. This commitment means that the University will take all reasonable steps to meet both the general need for access as well as the specific needs of individuals who wish to benefit from those activities.

The University has a strong record of admitting and supporting students with disabilities. The level of physical access to the campus is good and there is a long history of supporting students with learning disabilities, particularly dyslexia. Typically about 7% of students at York declare a disability at enrolment.

Applying to the University

It is the express policy of the University that every applicant is assessed principally on academic grounds. Needs associated with disabilities are taken into consideration in parallel with academic assessment of applications and only influence offer decisions in the very small number of instances where the disability is such that it may not be possible for the applicant to follow their chosen programme of study.

Certain disabilities may preclude entry to certain programmes, particularly those in subjects allied to medicine and those leading to qualified teacher status. Programmes with non-academic entry criteria are clearly indicated in prospectuses.

We would urge applicants with a disability to declare the fact on their application. If we know of your needs, then we can set about ensuring that they are met. If you declare you have a disability on application you will be sent a questionnaire which includes an invitation to visit or contact Disability Services to discuss your needs more fully.

We advise you to contact the University before you complete your application if you have any questions relating to your disability status. Academic questions (such as admissions requirements) should be directed to Student Recruitment and Admissions.  Other questions can be directed to Disability Services.

We also have information available relating to specific disabilities.

Location and access

The main University site is at Heslington, a village on the edge of York and one and a quarter miles from the city centre. There are frequent bus services between Heslington and the city. The University also uses the King's Manor, a historical building in the centre of York, which houses the Department of Archaeology and the Centres for Medieval Studies and Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Accessible public transport information is available on York City Council's i-Travel website.

The site at Heslington houses all of the academic departments except those mentioned above which are based at Kings Manor. It is a landscaped campus with artificial lakes and a wide variety of waterfowl. There are eight residential colleges and a range of departmental buildings, with some of the humanities and social science departments located within College buildings. University Road is the  one major road which runs through part of the site and is crossed by two bridges, both with ramp and lift access.

There are lifts in many of the buildings on campus; for information regarding access and egress for specific buildings please consult Disability Services.

The opening of the new section of the campus on the Heslington East site has increased distances between the extremities of the campus, but free regular bus services are available.

Due to the ongoing refurbishment of the University some areas may be inaccessible due to building work.

Further information on navigating campus is available.


The majority of first year students live in University accommodation in the colleges, though some are in self catering accommodation close to the University. College rooms on the ground floor can usually be made available where required by students with disabilities. The colleges have a number of rooms already adapted for such students and the University is willing to make further adaptations to enable students to study at York, as financial resources will allow. Cafeterias and snack bars are accessible from ground level. The University Sports Centre is on the campus and provides a wide range of facilities. There is a swimming pool currently under construction on Heslington East.

Teaching, assessment and examinations

Policy with regard to teaching, assessment and examination is to do everything reasonable to meet the evidenced needs of individual students. A flexible approach is adopted to take account of the impact of disability on performance by allowing for variation of standard arrangements on the basis of expert evidence and advice but, at the same time, preserving equitable treatment of all who are being taught, examined or assessed. 

The University normally allows variations on the standard examination procedures as requested by students' departments, with the support of an assessment of study needs or a recommendation from a suitably qualified specialist. Unless your condition arises from a sudden accident or illness, you must apply at least six weeks in advance to make sure there is adequate time to make arrangements. The principle underlying decisions is that reasonable adjustments are put in place to enable disabled students to be fairly and appropriately examined and assessed. A disability is not usually grounds for mitigation, and marks achieved are never altered as an adjustment.

Teaching takes place using a wide variety of techniques and methods. Lectures, seminars and laboratories may be supplemented by a variety of innovative approaches.

Timetabling and allocation of rooms can usually take account of the needs of individual students. The modularity of programmes allows some flexibility in the way they are pursued, but the degree to which this is possible varies between departments and programmes.

Staff development

All new academic staff undertake induction training, within the York Certificate of Academic Practice (PGCAP), which includes an introduction to disability. Additional staff training sessions are offered through the Professional and Organisational Development programme.

Student welfare and support

The University offers support for all students, with the addition of Disability Services to help those with specific needs. Every student has a supervisor, a member of academic staff in the student's department who can assist with academic and personal matters. Every student is also a member of one of the colleges and the college provosts and other staff will provide support where appropriate.

Disability Services will assist with application for a Disabled Students' Allowance (see below), and with organising the support thus funded. For instance, some students need to employ note-takers, and Disability Services can help to recruit people to do this and take care of arranging payments, although students remain free to make their own arrangements if they prefer to do so. All matters of welfare are over-seen by the Student Services Committee.

The University has an Open Door Service offering professional support to those experiencing emotional, psychological or mental health difficulties. Staff in the Open Door Team work closely with Disability services to support students with severe and enduring or complex mental health difficulties that is defined as a disability.

There is a Health Centre on campus, which houses a general practice with which students can register. Students are not obliged to choose this practice but students resident in York must register with a doctor in the area. The on-campus practice also acts as medical adviser to the University.

The University also employs Welfare Advisers who can provide students with help and advice. The Students' Union runs an Advice and Support Centre and has a Disability Officer, representing students with disabilities.

The University has a range of specialist equipment and assistive software available. For details of what is currently available please contact Disability Services in the first instance.

The Careers can provide information and guidance on career choice, employment, further study and part-time and vacation work link.

Financial support

It can be a significant cost to put in place support and reasonable adjustments. There are a number of sources of funding for such costs, where they are programme related. The staff in Disability Services or their colleagues in Student Support Services can advise on the sources of funding and application processes.

It remains the responsibility of the student to access or provide personal care they may require Again staff in Disability Services are happy to discuss this with you.        

Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA)

This is the main source of funding for disability related costs for students paying ‘home’ fees (either full-time or at least 50% part-time). DSA is paid through Student Finance England or the relevant research Council. Students in receipt of an NHS Bursary may apply for DSA from the NHS. The Disabled Students' Allowance is not means tested or related to other benefits. .

DSAs are not usually available to international students or students who have been living abroad for the last three years.

There are three types of DSA allowance and students may be eligible for any or all of them depending on an assessment of needs. The allowances cover, or contribute towards the cost of:

  • specialist equipment
  • non-medical assistance  
  • miscellaneous minor expenditure

If you think you may be eligible for help under the scheme you should seek advice right away. Further information and details of how to apply can be found on Disability Services web-pages or on the Direct Gov website. Students may also wish to discuss the matter with the University’s Disability Services.

Other sources of funding

If you need financial support as the result of a disability, but you do not qualify for a DSA, then there are other sources of information and finance. The University's Student Welfare Advisers can offer advice on benefit entitlement, as well as other sources of funding to which you may be eligible. The University also has a Hardship Fund for students (subject to eligibility) with financial needs that cannot be met from other sources.

Arrangements for handling complaints

Complaints from students with disabilities are handled in the same way as complaints from any other student under the University's complaints procedure. However, if you feel you have a disability-related complaint you are welcome to discuss this with staff in Disability Services or the Equality and Diversity Office.        

Who to contact

  • Disability Services
  • Block B, Sally Baldwin Bldg
    01904 324785
  • Opening hours:
    9am - 4.15pm, Monday to Friday (term-time)
    10am - 4pm, Monday to Friday (outside term-time)

Further information