FAQs for students
Here are the answers to some common questions that we hear.
How can I prepare for university?
The most important thing you can do is get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we can discuss your support needs. You should also apply for the Disabled Students’ Allowances as soon as possible. We recommend visiting the campus more than once before the start of term so that you can familiarise yourself with the environment and find your way around.
What are the Disabled Students’ Allowances and how could they help me?
DSAs help pay towards extra costs you may have when studying on your course as a direct result of your autism spectrum condition. This might include paying for one-to-one mentoring support or study support, note-taking support or IT equipment. These are just a few examples of what it might pay for. Applications are made to your student funding authority e.g. Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, Student Finance NI, the Student Awards Agency for Scotland. If you said on your main student finance application that you would like to apply for the DSAs, your student funding authority should send you out a DSA application form automatically. Otherwise, forms are downloadable from the DSAs section of the Government website.
How do I arrange my support?
After you have applied for the Disabled Students’ Allowances, your student funding authority will write to you to invite you to attend a needs assessment. The person assessing your needs will work with you to decide what support you will find most helpful and write this in a report. Once you and the student funding authority have said that you agree with what the report says, you will be sent detailed instructions on how to arrange your support. NTU will also receive instructions telling us what we need to put in place for you. Find out more about needs assessment.
Should I be worried about living in shared accommodation?
Sharing accommodation is very much part of the student experience, but it is not without its challenges. We advise you to think very carefully and talk to us and / or your parents before making a decision about where you will live during your studies. Sharing a kitchen and living area means that you will be sharing a space with people who may think very differently to you about how and where to store food, how often to wash up, how tidy a room should be, how early or late to play loud music and how many visitors to have. If you would find this difficult, we can advise you about other options that you may find preferable.
What should I do if I have any problems?
Please tell one of the Autism Support Team and we will do our best to help you. That is what we are here for, and no worry is too big or too small.
It did not say on the UCAS form that I have an Autism Spectrum Condition, so the Autism Support Team does not know about me and therefore I have no support.
It is never too late to get in touch with us to tell us about your support needs. If you feel you would benefit from additional support – or if you aren't sure whether you need support or not - please get in touch with us as soon as possible. You can apply for DSAs at any time during your programme of study, but the application process takes quite a long time so you should send your application as soon as possible. We can help you with this, so just get in touch.
FAQs for parents and carers
As a parent or carer of a prospective NTU student, should I start to help my child prepare for university life?
Parents and / or carers of students with autism spectrum conditions play a vital role in preparing them for university life and supporting them throughout their studies.
What type of practical things should I be thinking about doing to help my child prepare for university life?
It's never too early to start nurturing independent living skills such as:
- supermarket shopping
- personal hygiene
- getting up in the morning
- working washing machines
- programming central heating
- taking out the rubbish
Give the student every opportunity to take responsibility for these tasks.
What type of things do we need to talk through in advance of our son / daughter coming to university, eg course, accommodation?
Talk through some of the big decisions your son / daughter needs to make, such as course choice and accommodation options. Encourage them to consider all the options and make a decision that is right for them. Many of our students find that living at home, at least for the first year, gives them the best chance to get used to university study without having to get used to independent living at the same time. Choosing a course which suits them and is enjoyable matters as it will reduce the inevitable pressures that arise in the process of securing a degree. Students with ASC's are often best served short-term and long-term when they follow their 'passions' and find a vocational niche within that area which can be nurtured.
My son / daughter is keen to go into shared accommodation when at university, rather than staying at home. What do we need to consider in these circumstances?
Sharing accommodation with peers who are new to them can be a big challenge. Role-playing possible scenarios and talking through how to react appropriately would be helpful. NTU has some self-contained studio apartments for those who want to reduce the number of potential stressors in Year 1; the pros and cons of this option will vary from student to student and it would be good if parents / guardians had this discussion prior to a choice being made.
Will the support at university be very different to that provided by school?
Be prepared for a change in the way your son / daughter is supported. At school, you may have had regular contact with a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and have played an active role in deciding what support was required. At University, decisions about the support required are made by the student, together with a disability officer. However, we welcome any thoughts you might want to share or any suggestions of what has proved helpful in the past.
Should we attend any open day or pre-entry events that the university might hold, along with our son / daughter?
If possible, support your son / daughter to make several visits to the University campus where they will be studying and also into town so they can familiarise themselves with local facilities. The public transport system in Nottingham is excellent; familiarity with using buses and trams would also be a useful skill to develop prior to their arrival at NTU.
What role can I play in their support while they are at university?
We try to find a balance between supporting students and enabling independence and encourage you to do the same. At university, decisions about the support required are made by the student, together with a disability officer. However, we welcome any thoughts you might want to share or any suggestions of what has proved helpful in the past. Input from parents can be particularly helpful in helping students to manage 'Welcome Week' and in de-stressing that first term at university.
However, while we fully empathise with parental concerns, we do need explicit permission from the student to initiate a dialogue with parents / guardians. Even then we are obliged to abide by the student's wishes on matters they wish to remain confidential.
The evidence suggests that having a degree enhances life opportunities. However the process of acquiring a degree can involve periods of anxiety and stress. These pressures can be particularly acute for students with ASC's. Students will be supported at these times – their mental health is the priority - but we are also keen to develop transferable 'personal navigation' skills whenever we can. And we would ask parents / guardians to reinforce the development of a 'can-do' mind-set too, so that the student is better able to cope post-NTU.