Support for Students

Identifying your needs

We know that every student has individual needs, and will begin their studies with a range of different experiences of education in the past. We will do our best to provide support to help you reach your maximum potential, trying to remove as many barriers to your learning as possible.

We have a dedicated HE Study Support Officer who can offer one to one or group support for all students studying Higher Education qualifications.  You do not need to have a named learning difficulty to access study support. You may have always had difficulties at school, or you may just be worried about how to write at HE level, and need some initial support until you gain confidence. 

All tutors will also be on the lookout for any identifying markers throughout the course in both written and oral work. If your tutor is concerned, they may suggest you make an appointment with the Study Support Officer to discuss your options for support, or assessment of your needs.

Some students struggle on without support in the belief that they must do things themselves and that to get help would be cheating; this isn’t the case!  The support you get will not give you any new subject knowledge, but will help to remove the barriers you encounter with planning, organisation, understanding the assessment brief or learning outcomes, grammar and sentence structure. 

Some students will begin their studies already having a diagnosed learning need, and it is important that if this is the case you indicate this on application or at interview, so we can discuss your needs in advance and have things in place for you, where possible, when you start.  

For some students who may be returning to education after a short (or long!) break, difficulties may not yet have been recognised. This is why we aim to screen all new students during the induction period of a course, so that any areas of concern can be identified early in your studies.  This is known as an initial learning needs survey. It is a good indicator that a student may have a learning need or difference which may require some support with their studies.  

These assessments can help us to know what to do next, and are not intended to give a formal diagnosis. However, if the screening shows strong indicators of a particular issue such as dyslexia for example, our HE Study Support Officer can provide help and guidance on getting a full assessment, and in cases of financial hardship, what support might be available to help with the cost involved.


Disabled Student Allowance 

If you have had a full assessment and have a disability recognised under the Equality Act 2010, such as a long-term health condition, mental health condition, or a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, you can apply for some funding to support you while you study.

This is known as Disabled Student Allowance or DSA, and it is designed to help with costs you may have because of the extra support you need for your disability such as equipment, software or travel expenses relating to your study. It will not cover things you need that are not associated with your studies.  It is not means tested, but based on individual need and is paid on top of your other financial help. 

Please be aware that it can take some time (approximately 14 weeks) for a DSA application to be processed, and this will need a recent (post 16 years of age) diagnostic assessment, or Medical Report, so please allow time for this and ensure you have the evidence of this assessment ready for your application.

The DSAguide has some useful information about eligibility and how to apply. 


What support can we offer?

If you do have a diagnosis then support is available for Higher Education students who have issues such as:

  • Dyslexia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia


Types of support available

This list can give you an idea of the support offered whilst on your HE course.

  • Study Skills
  • Assignment Planning
  • Organisation
  • Proof reading
  • Communication skills

This list doesn’t include everything that we can offer. If there is another area you need to be supported with, please drop in or make an appointment to discuss how we can help.

If you have a disability or diagnosed learning need, we can help you to liaise with external agencies to ensure you are receiving the support you are entitled to, and to make any reasonable adjustments required to your study environment or resources. We can also work with you and your tutor to get an understanding of what works best for you, and how we can make adjustments to help you feel comfortable and supported during your time at Swindon College. 


Assessment Cards

We operate a scheme whereby students with a specific learning difficulty can apply for an assessment card. These cards (Blue for Oxford Brookes students and Green for Swindon College students) are put in the front of your assessment work to notify the marker that you have a learning difficulty, and that they should not over penalise you on the grounds of structural issues, presentation, or if explicit within the criterion, in the grammar and spelling section of the assessment (usually a maximum of 10% of the mark). 

Minor inaccuracies or errors which do not interfere with the understanding of what has been written should not be penalised. However, it is a fundamental premise under the law that academic standards should be maintained, therefore this system does not compensate for a student not being able to demonstrate academic knowledge and competence which meets the course requirements, despite reasonable adjustments being made.   


If you would like some advice on the support available or any aspect discussed above then please contact;

Linda Pope, HE Study Support Officer

(01793) 491591 Ext: 1531

Available Monday to Friday by appointment, (please arrange by email) or call in to the HE Office for availability and ‘drop-in’ appointments.