How to get support for learning differences at university

How to get support for learning differences at university

This article was written by the Great British Mag editorial team on 2 December 2020

If you have a learning difference, such as dyslexia, you can get the support you need at British universities and in this article we explore how you can find out what support is available at the university of your choice, how you can access it and whether there will be additional costs.

Do your research

If you are currently choosing a university then it is worth reaching out to your shortlist to find out how they can accommodate your learning difference. You don’t have to worry about declaring your learning difference as this will not affect your chances of getting into your preferred university, because in the UK universities must follow the Equality Act (2010), and make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for anyone with a learning difference so that they are able to study in a way that does not disadvantage them.

If you are already at a UK university and feel you need additional support or you want to be diagnosed for a learning difference then look at the website, speak to your tutors, consult the international student support team or reach out the student welfare team.

Highlight your learning difference on your UCAS form

To ensure you get the support you need highlight your learning difference on your UCAS form. There is a specific section that asks whether you will need extra support and you can highlight your learning differences in this section.

Make arrangements before you start university

To ensure you get the support you need from day one the best thing to do is to have a discussion and make arrangements before you start university.

Many UK universities can provide the following help. 

  • Provide you with assistive technology, such as software that can read text for you or change your speech to text on screen
  • Provide you with a learning mentor who can help you with academic skills, such as planning an essay or organising your work
  • Make special exam arrangements for you, including: someone reading the questions for you, coloured paper with a larger text (if that helps you to read easier) and extra time to complete the exam
  • Inform the tutors on your course (with your permission) about your learning difference. They can then adapt materials, give you extra time to hand in assignments and generally adjust things to suit your needs.

How can I get help if I’m studying online?

If you need help with your studies but you are studying remotely reach out to your university. They will explore delivering support remotely or making alternative arrangements for you.  

You can also checkout some of these apps to help you manage your learning difference.




Google Read Aloud FreeThis is a plug-in which can be installed in the toolbar of your computer.  It then highlights and reads aloud any text or article that is on your screen. Settings allow a choice of different reading voices, and you can also change the pitch and reading speed.
MindmeisterFreeAs many people with a learning difference can find it hard to link ideas together as they are writing, this website allows you to create visual mind-maps, so you can see your ideas connected on the screen in a colourful and memorable way.
My Study LifeFree

Most people with a learning difference have problems with their working memory, so this app can help with a range of tasks, including: organising and rearranging classes, reminders about exams and creating to-do lists. 

Insight TimerFreeAn app that helps you build relaxation exercises into your daily schedule.
Free on AndroidHelps with concentration by blocking social media sites from popping up when you are studying.

Is the additional support free?

The support you can get and whether there will be an additional cost will depend on your university, so it is worth researching and comparing cost before you choose a university.

Can I get financial support to help me with my learning differences?

As an international student you are not be entitled to financial support to help you manage your learning difference. However, universities are obliged to provide you with support you need to be able to complete your course and sit exams. 

 You many also want to read

What is a learning difference and how do I get diagnosed

How to get support at university for mental health problems

Navigating student life as a wheelchair user