Equality and Diversity

Disability Statement for applicants and students


Introduction by the Chancellor, Sanjeev Bhaskar

At Sussex, we extend a particularly warm welcome to disabled students and, in seeking to ensure that their experience of campus life will be as pleasurable and rewarding as possible, we are able to offer a wide range of personalised assistance.

Whatever your disability, if you are soon to embark on a university course, I do hope that you will pay us a visit. It is very important that you have an opportunity to discuss any potential problems and how, together, we may be able to solve them before you apply for a place.

Sadly, in common with many other universities, Sussex has some buildings that are not fully accessible to those in wheelchairs. This is because our original campus, designed by Sir Basil Spence, was built during the 1960s when the needs of people with limited mobility were not properly taken into consideration as they are today. We have, over the years, made a number of significant adaptations to these older buildings and are continuing to do so wherever possible. I do have to confess, however, that it is still difficult to reach certain areas.

Naturally, access to the curriculum will be just as important to you as physical access and being able to take advantage of recent advances in technology could well make your studies a great deal easier. I have been made aware of the great progress that has been achieved in this field since I became patron of the Jubilee Scholarships which were established during the University's Silver Jubilee in 1986. The scholarships were created to provide specialist equipment for severely disabled secondary school pupils throughout East and West Sussex to help them prepare for university entrance.

Of course, it is not only those with severe disabilities who can benefit from specialist equipment and we are able to offer personal solutions for a wide spectrum of special needs through the work of our Student Support Unit and groundbreaking Sussex Regional Access Centre.

Although such support, whether simple or complicated, could make a huge difference to your time at Sussex, I would also stress the fundamental importance of teaching which consistently values your individuality, allied to the positive and welcoming atmosphere which, we pride ourselves, is the hallmark of our campus.

My most rewarding duty as Chancellor is to confer degrees at our graduation ceremonies. For each and every student, this is a moment of triumph. For some, however, it represents an even greater achievement.

Our disabled graduates will inevitably have encountered - and overcome - some additional difficulties on their journey to academic success. But what they will remember, and you too will discover, is that Sussex University is about enablement.


Admissions procedures

Before you apply

This booklet provides a summary of services, facilities and site accessibility for disabled students or for students with dyslexia/specific learning difficulties. We hope that the information will help you to decide whether Sussex offers the support and facilities you might require as a student. If you then decide to apply, and particularly if you have a condition which affects your mobility, we would encourage you to talk to us about your requirements before submitting your application. You are also very welcome to visit us. If you are not resident in the UK and are unable to visit the University, we can discuss your requirements by correspondence. The people to contact are the Disability Co-ordinators in the Student Support Unit see below for contact details.

When you apply

Once you have decided on your choice of courses you will need to complete the relevant application forms. Both undergraduate and postgraduate applicants will find that there is a section on their application form which requests details of any disability or specific learning difficulties together with details of any support required.

If you complete the relevant section of your application form, the response you receive will depend on the information you provide. For example, you may receive a letter which provides some further information, or you may be invited to visit the University in order to meet relevant staff and students and explore the University's facilities and campus.

The advantage of discussing your requirements at application stage, or before, is that this allows both you and the University to agree, at the earliest opportunity, what would be needed in order for you to study at Sussex and whether the facilities and services available would meet your needs.

It is also important to note that consideration of how we can meet any special needs is separate to the assessment of your academic suitability.

We must point out that certain facilities are limited in terms of availability, e.g. adapted accommodation, and so it would be wise to make your application early and seek confirmation that the facilities you require will be available.


University Services

Student Support Unit

The University has a Student Support Unit which houses the Disability Co-ordinators, Learning Support Co-ordinator, Mental Health Co-ordinator and Dyslexia Advisors. The Unit offers advice and assistance in securing support to both prospective and new students and throughout a student's time at the University.

If you have any requirements related to health, disability, specific learning difficulties and have noted these on your application form, it is likely that you will be contacted by the Unit either during the application process or before your arrival at the University. This will be to ensure that your needs have been considered and that you have details of the facilities available at Sussex.

Health Centre

The University has a Health Centre on campus, with four general practitioners and several practice nurses. You may wish to contact the Health Centre during the application stage in order to establish your medical needs and ensure that you have the opportunity to consider the services available.

Sussex Regional Access Centre

The Sussex Regional Access Centre, based in Lancaster House, is a member of the National Federation of Access Centres. The Centre offers advice to disabled students and students with specific learning difficulties. The range of services available includes advice on assistive technologies, specialist hardware and computer software, training, and assessment of needs for students applying for the Disabled Student's Allowance and Hardship Funds (see section on Financial support) and those who require further assistance as their course progresses.

Psychological and Counselling Services

The Psychological and Counselling Service offers a range of individual and group therapies available free to all registered students. It also offers brief courses on anxiety management, stress reduction, therapeutic massage, eating disorders and counselling. Initial assessment is by a twenty minute interview. The service is confidential and offers an opportunity to address the problems that can beset students in terms and ways that you may find accessible. Feel free to come and discuss your difficulties. Even if you are not sure that the service is appropriate for you the Unit will be happy to refer you on if necessary.

Student Advisors

Each School has a number of Student Advisors who are here to help with personal, financial and academic difficulties. They will also refer you to central support services if appropriate and may liaise with academic staff on your behalf. The type of help and advice the Advisors can offer includes:

  • Financial information on all sources of University support, including Hardship Funds, University scholarships and bursaries, advice on fees and fee waivers, casual employment and University-managed accommodation.
  • Personal support if you are experiencing relationship or domestic difficulties or other problems of a personal nature.
  • Academic advice on transfers, appeals, intermission, plagiarism and help with identifying obstacles to learning and advice on study skills support. In general Advisors provide space and expertise to help you explore the personal aspects of your experience and how this may be affecting learning.

Library

If you are invited to visit the University to gain a better sense of the environment and our facilities, you will have the opportunity to meet a member of the Library staff who will take you on a tour of the Library and show you the facilities. Arrangements can be made, where necessary, to order books by email or phone and to assist with locating and carrying library materials. A room is available in the Library with some items of assistive technology. If you have any individual requirements or suggestions a member of the Library staff will be happy to discuss them with you.

Computing Service

The Computing Service currently supports seven 'Adapted PCs' specifically for use by students with a disability or special need. In addition to the 'standard desktop' each 'Adapted PC' offers a number of assistive software packages providing screen magnification; text to speech output, mind mapping, high quality scanning and word prediction. The PCs are located across campus in easily accessible rooms, some benefit from height adjustable desks, whilst others offer large screens. All have access to printing facilities.

Students wishing to use these PCs will need to contact the Computing Service Disability Advisor who will authorise access and provide training if required.

Information about the Computing Service and the services it provides is available online and a text only version is also available. This information together with training material from our 'in-house' courses can also be provided in large print or on coloured paper on request.

Computing Service Disability Advisor - Liz Davis, external telephone 01273 873131, internal telephone 3131, email E.A.Davis@sussex.ac.uk

Students' Union

The Students' Union consistently represents the interests of disabled students. The full-time elected Welfare Officer is responsible for disability issues and the Student Welfare Advisers in the Advice and Representation Centre are available to give advice and assistance on any welfare-related issue. Unfortunately the Centre is not accessible to wheelchair users at the moment but the staff in all the offices are friendly and helpful and will advise you over the phone or arrange to visit you at a mutually convenient time.

Careers & Employability Centre

We encourage all our students to think about how they can develop their employability and explore career options as early as possible and our Careers & Employability Centre is here to assist you at every stage of your career progression. We work with students from the moment they arrive at Sussex and can help you in the following ways:

  • A comprehensive CEC website with a section devoted to Equality and Diversity including links to specialist organisations who work with students with disabilities and also a link to our e-guidance service
  • One to one guidance to talk about your options, including issues of disclosure.
  • The Employability Accelerator programme of events - employer presentations and fairs, CV and interview workshops, talks by Sussex Graduates
  • Vacancies - for part-time work whilst studying, vacation work/ work experience, finalists and graduates
  • The SussexPlus webfolio initiative which encourages students to develop their skills and experience

Careers & Employability is situated in the Library, on the ground floor (for directions, refer to the Library's access information).

Whilst the main entrance to the Library may be unsuitable for users who have mobility problems, there is, however, the step free entrance located at the north end of the building (follow the signs to the Institute for Development Studies). This allows entry, via a phone link to the ground floor. Please contact Library Membership to arrange alternative access:

Phone: +44 (0)1273 873510 Email: library.membership@sussex.ac.uk

A member of the Careers and Employability Centre team would also be happy to come and meet you, in the first instance, at an alternative location. Call 01273 678429 or email careers@sussex.ac.uk for an appointment.

Study and personal care support

Individual study support

It may be that you require support in order to help you study. For example you may need a note taker for lectures, reader for coursework texts, a typist for written work, use of IT (including hardware, specialist software and tape-recording facilities) or learning support with a qualified learning support tutor.

If you have any study support needs we would like the opportunity to discuss these with you. The majority of study support is funded from the Disabled Student's Allowance (see section on Financial Support on page 9) and is applied for by the student. The Disability or Learning Support Co-ordinator will assist and advise you in making your funding application and in locating and organising necessary support.

Personal care support

If you have personal care needs, including help with shopping, cooking or cleaning, the Disability Co-ordinator will contact you to discuss your needs in more detail. They may arrange to meet you and, it is hoped that any meeting would form part of a visit to the University and would include either your current carers or care providers. This will help you to gain a full picture of what life might be like at the University and what sort of care you would require.

The University does not offer a personal care facility. However, we can provide advice and assistance in locating and liaising with personal care providers, such as local care agencies.

The Disability Co-ordinators will also assist you in applying for funding for the cost of your personal care by liaising with your local social services department or local education authority (LEA).

Accommodation

Sussex offers a variety of accommodation which caters for students' individual requirements. For example, Kulukundis House is a wing of a larger student residence, Kent House, and is ideal for disabled students who need some assistance with day-to-day living. It has four study bedrooms with furniture and fittings that are manageable for many wheelchair users. It is essential to visit the facilities to check their suitability before you make a formal application. If more students require accommodation than we have places available, rooms will be allocated on a first come, first served basis with continuing students having priority.

Other University housing, both on and off campus, includes units designed for disabled students who are able to live independently. In Lewes Court, for example, there are four study-bedrooms each with an en-suite bathroom. All these areas of these flats - including the kitchen, laundry and other communal areas - have been designed with wheelchair access in mind.

If you have resident personal carers you should be aware that you will have to meet the cost of the carers' accommo-dation. If you are a UK student you may

be able to reclaim these charges from your LEA, through the Disabled Student's Allowance, or from your Local Social Services Department see section on Financial Support.

Special arrangements for examinations

Sussex is responsive to providing individual arrangements for examinations and we try, as far as possible, to tailor such arrangements to meet the particular requirements of individual students. Arrangements can include the provision of an amanuensis, the use of computers and allowing additional time to complete the examination.

If you are an undergraduate and you require individual arrangements, you will either be referred to the Student Support Unit by your Student Advisor, or you may wish to contact them direct. Any recommendations will be sent direct to the Undergraduate Office which then makes the arrangements and you will be notified about them early in the Summer term when the examination timetable is available.

Postgraduates who require individual arrangements for examinations or for the submission of projects or dissertations should inform their programme convenor and the Postgraduate Office at least 28 days before the examination or submission. Arrangements for the year abroad

If you are on a course which involves spending a period of study abroad, the International and Study Abroad Office (ISAO) will liaise with Sussex's partner institutions to try to ensure that the host university can adequately support your needs. If you are spending a period in Europe under the ERASMUS scheme, you can apply for financial assistance from the ERASMUS programme through the office.

Site accessibility

The University is situated in a valley in the South Downs and the natural slopes of the site were an integral feature of the design. Consequently, some buildings are situated on relatively steep gradients. As Lord Attenborough points out in his introduction, most of the buildings, many of which have listed building status, were designed in the 1960s and were not originally accessible by wheelchair. However, the University has adapted many of its buildings - and one advantage of the sloping landscape is that 'ground level' access to some buildings is on several different floors. However, there are undeniably still some difficult areas.

In general, as far as our academic buildings are concerned, you should be aware that Humanities and Social Sciences courses are taught in Arts A, B, C, D, E and Essex House and there is only one lift. This is situated in Arts D, and the steps between sections make the Arts buildings awkward for wheelchair users. This means that there is often only a rather long and circuitous route between two fairly close points. Regrettably, at the time of publication of this document, it is still almost impossible for a wheelchair user to access Arts E.

Most of the buildings in which science courses are taught have ramped goods entrances and large service lifts, so many areas of the buildings are accessible. But it is the case that, because these are service entrances, there are often very heavy doors or shutters, which might be difficult.

You may be entitled to car parking facilities. This can be arranged through the Disability Co-ordinators who can also provide you with up-to-date and detailed information on access to all our buildings. An access guide to campus is available on the website on the Disability home page.

Accessibility of leisure facilities

The ground floor of Falmer House is accessible to wheelchair users. This includes the main reception of the Students' Union, Falmer Bar, and the Hothouse nightclub. However, the rest of Falmer House is not accessible.

A flight of steps leads up to the main entrance of the Meeting House where the Chaplaincy is located, but a concrete bridge lies over the moat, enabling wheelchair users to enter the Quiet Room from which you can enter the foyer, gaining access to the Chaplains' offices. The Chapel, however, is not accessible by wheelchair.

Bramber House has a coffee shop, restaurants, bookshop, supermarket, newsagent, launderette, post office, insurers and a bank, all of which are accessible. It also has three accessible toilets.

Sport Service facilities are located on two sites on the campus. The Sportcentre's ground floor is accessible and gives access to one of the main halls, the Lifestyles Studio and Sports Injuries Clinic and changing facilities. The Falmer Sports Complex fitness room is on two floors and the ground floor is easily accessible in the wheelchair. Bar and catering facilities are accessible as are the all weather pitch, tennis and netball courts. However, difficulty may be found in getting to the Falmer Sports Complex from residences because of the gradient involved. The Sport Service welcomes disabled students and staff are happy to provide assistance wherever possible.

Wheelchair access at the Gardner Arts Centre is limited, with stairs to both the auditorium and gallery. If you are a wheelchair user you are advised to book in advance stating any seating require-ments. You will be eligible for concessions and, if it is possible for you to be assisted up the stairs by your companions, you can claim two free tickets for them. There is wheelchair access at ground level to the Studio, Cafe Bar, Box Office and toilets.

Financial support

The following information has been taken directly from 'Bridging the Gap', a guide to the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) in higher education in 2003/2004.

When do I apply ?

Apply as soon as you can, in order to receive payments promptly. If you have proof of acceptance on your course, your LEA (or OU) might make payments before your course begins, to allow you to buy items of specialist equipment. However, you can apply for DSAs at any stage of your course. For example, you might want to wait until you have started your course before deciding what equipment you will need.

Do DSAs depend on my income ?

No, DSAs do not depend on your income or the income of your family.

What do the DSAs cover ?

DSAs are not paid as a set amount. Your LEA (or OU) will find out what you need and how much it will cost, usually by asking that you have a needs assessment. You will only get enough money from the DSA to cover the cost of the equipment or support you needbecause of your disability. The amount of DSA you receive will depend upon the needs assessment. If you are a part-time student, you will have to get certification from your higher education institution that you are studying at least 50% of a full-time course in order to be eligible, and to work out the rate of the non-medical helpers and general allowances.

However, there is a limit to the amount of help you can get from the DSAs. The rates shown below are the maximum you can get. They are meant to support people with a high level of need, so most people will get less than the maximum.

The rates of allowances for 2003/2004 (2003 for OU students) are as follows:

For full-time undergraduate students

  • Specialist equipment allowance - up to £4,460 for the whole of your course.
  • Non-medical helper's allowance - up to £11,280 a year
  • General disabled students' allowance - up to £1,490 a year.
  • Reasonable spending on extra travel costs

For part-time undergraduate students (including distance-learning students) and relevant Open University students

  • Specialist equipment allowance - up to £4,460 for the whole of your course.
  • Non-medical helper's allowance as a percentage of the full-time rate, according to the workload of a part-time course, for example, for a student studying:
  • 50% of a full-time course - up to £5,640 a year; or
  • 60% of a full-time course - up to £6,768 a year.
  • General disabled students' allowance - as a percentage of the non-medical helper's allowance - up to £1,115 a year.
  • Reasonable spending on extra travel costs.

For full-time and part-time postgrad-uate students, including relevant Open University students

There is one allowance to meet all costs of up to £5,370 a year for both full-time and part-time postgraduate students. You can use this for specialist equipment, non-medical personal helpers or extra travel costs (or both). The amount of DSA you receive will depend upon the needs assessment.

Specialist equipment allowance

This allowance is to help you buy any items of equipment you may need. You can also use it to pay for any repair, technical support, insurance or extended warranty costs arising from owning that equipment. Your LEA (or OU) can also reimburse costs you have to pay to rent, rather than buy, a major item of equipment if this is more economical. You can apply for the specialist equipment allowance at any time during your course. You may like to consider with your LEA (or OU) whether some initial training in using any equipment you are buying would be helpful. The cost of this training would come from your non-medical helper's part of the DSA.

If you apply for help towards the end of your course, your LEA (or OU) may ask you to consider if there are more economical alternatives to buying equipment. For example, you could rent or hire equipment from a supplier or loan it from your university or college. Or, non-IT options, such as human support, may prove more effective when the time left is just a few weeks.

Non-medical helper's allowance

This allowance may provide for any helpers, such as readers, sign-language interpreters, note-takers and other non-medical assistants you need to benefit fully from your course. DSAs are not meant to help with disability-related spending which you would have to pay, whether you were following your course or not. Your local social services department may help you with these personal costs.

If you have dyslexia or another condition which would benefit from extra tutorial support, you could receive funds from your LEA (or OU) under this allowance to pay for extra support for literacy or personal management problems which arise from your dyslexia if this has been recommended in a needs assessment carried out by a suitably qualified person. Specialist tutors should provide this support. This support may be available through your institution [note: it is available here at Sussex], although you are entitled to arrange to receive it from another provider, if that is more appropriate. You cannot use the allowance to pay for extra tuition in subjects which are part of your course.

General disabled students' allowance

This allowance may be paid towards other disability-related spending. You can use it to buy items such as tapes and Braille paper, or to top up the other two allowances, if necessary.

Travel costs

If you have to pay extra travel costs to attend your course because of your disability, your LEA (or OU) may be able to help with them. Any travel costs of this sort will not depend on your income. You will not normally be eligible for help with everyday travel costs which any student would expect to have. Your LEA (or OU) can give you more advice.

Disability Living Allowance: is for people who have care and/or mobility needs as a result of a disability. There is a care component and a mobility component which are paid over and above any other income you may have. It is a non-means-tested benefit which would have no effect on any other benefit or student funding you may receive.

Disabled Person's Tax Credit: is a benefit for people working at least 16 hours per week and who are on a qualifying benefit. If you believe you may be eligible for this benefit, you should call 0800 597 5976 for further details

Hardship Funds: The University administers a Hardship Fund and targets it towards those students in greatest financial need. Disabled students in need should apply through their Student Advisors.

Monitoring of provision

The Student Support and Progress Committee is responsible for the monitoring of the University's provision for students with disabilities and students with special needs. The Committee is advised by the Students' Union and the Disability Consultative Group. The University's Disability Policy is available on the web on: www.sussex.central.ac.uk/disability.


Graduating from Sussex

Both winter and summer graduation ceremonies will be held in the Brighton Dome Concert Hall, which is wheelchair accessible and has hearing loop systems installed. If you have restricted mobility there is a stair lift which will enable you to access the stage to receive your degree. We also provide interpreters for deaf students. On graduation day there is a team of University staff to assist disabled students and guests in the Dome complex.

Publishing Statement
Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this document at the time of going to press (October 2003) but the University can accept no responsibility for errors or omissions.

Contact details

For general enquiries, please contact:

Disability Co-ordinator
Student Support Unit
Pevensey Building 1
The University of Sussex
Falmer
Brighton
BN1 9QH

Tel: (01273) 877465

Email: studentsupport@sussex.ac.uk

Published by the Student Services Division, University of Sussex. This document is also available via our website at http://www.sussex.ac.uk/equalities/1-2.html. If you require a version in an alternative format (e.g. Braille, audio tape) please contact the Disability Co-ordinator.