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Information for DSA Needs Assessors and Non-Medical Helpers (NMH)

The information below is intended primarily to help Needs Assessors when assessing students at the University of Reading by providing some information about how we work with disabled students studying here, including the support and adjustments available through the university. We also have some information for Non-Medical Helpers below.

For Non-Medical Helpers

If you are a Non-Medical Helper (NMH) working with a University of Reading student, the university may be able to provide a room for one-to-one tutor/mentor sessions, while on campus, provided you speak to us well in advance to check availability.

We have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) which we will ask all NMH to sign and return to us, so we are in agreement of our working principles and practices while working with Reading Students/on campus. Please contact us at the earliest to organise a room, or, if you haven't already done so, sign and return our SLA.

Note: you may find students can get very confused about their mentors and tutors and the different roles, often because the University offers both Academic and Social Mentors to students identified as eligible, and they will have an Academic Tutor (who is assigned from the University Department), so students will often easily confuse SPLD Tutors and Specialist Mentoring with University Mentors, and Academic tutors.

~University Social or Academic Mentors are other students, who are employed to spend a few hours a week providing support to targeted students. (University provided).

~Academic TutorsAll undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are allocated an Academic Tutor - a member of academic staff in the School or Department who acts as a key point of contact throughout the student's degree.  (University provided).

~SpLD Tutor - a specialist Tutor (external to the University), who provides one-to-one tutor support.  (DSA provided).

~Specialist Mentor -  a specialist Mentor (external to the University), who provides one-to-one mentoring support.  (DSA provided).


Students may also get confused about the difference between DSA and DAS.

~DSA or Disabled Student Allowance is Government funding, on top of Student Finance, to help with costs towards equipment or support needs that students may have as a disabled student.

~DAS stands for Disability Advisory Service,. We are the University team who students need to speak to, to discuss the impact of their disability on your studies, so we can make recommendations of any reasonable adjustments required to their learning or exams (these won't be automatic).

For Needs Assessors:

This information is not intended to be pasted verbatim into section A-4 of the needs assessment report, but to help assessors with making their recommendations and advising students on the support available through the institution.

Assessors are also very welcome to contact the Disability Advisory Service to discuss specific recommendations for support - please call 0118 378 4202 or email


The university provides a range of accommodation for students, including catered and self-catered halls, rooms with en-suite bathrooms and rooms with shared bathroom facilities, postgraduate-only halls, and halls with designated quieter areas. Many of the halls are located on the main Whiteknights campus, within a short walk of the main campus facilities. If a student identifies having any disability-related accommodation requirements in their needs assessment, please document these in section D-1 and advise the student to contact the Disability Advisory Service.

For students who have a disability-related requirement for a room with en-suite facilities, the university may be able to reimburse the additional cost of this. There is an Accommodation Support Application form (see our funding support page) that students can use to apply, or they can contact the Disability Advisory Service directly.

Academic mentoring

If students, for disability-related reasons, require additional study support to help them with organising their workload, prioritising their work according to deadlines, managing their time, providing a link with the academic department or with understanding their course requirements, the Disability Advisory Service may be able to provide academic mentoring support. This matches students with a more experienced student, often from a similar academic discipline, for a number of one-to-one sessions to provide focussed academic support.

If it is identified during the needs assessment that support of this nature may be of benefit, assessors are welcome to state in section D-1 of the report that this support may be available, subject to assessment by the Disability Advisory Service.

However, please note that this service is not the same as specialist study skills support or specialist mentoring required by students with specific learning difficulties or ASD, which is external to the university, and therefore would usually not be provided to students eligible for DSA-funded study skills support.

Band 1 & 2 NMH support

If NMH support is identified in the needs assessment which falls outside current DSA provisions, such as Band 1 and 2 NMH support, assessors are asked to outline the difficulties that the student is likely to face, and outline any specific details relating to why DSA-funded support will not be sufficient. The Disability Advisory Service will then follow up with the student to assess what HEI funded support may be possible to access.

For students who may require manual note taking support and who are not be eligible for DSA funding to cover the cost of this, assessors are asked to consider recommending assistive technology  or equipment-based strategies that the student may, with support from the university, be able to implement, or work towards implementing in the future. In some cases the University may be able to provide a notetaker, or assistive technology to support notetaking.

Band 3 & 4 NMH support

Assessors are asked to make contact with The Disability Advisory Service to discuss Bands 3 and 4 non-medical helper support and suppliers. The University has been working closely with suppliers for a number of years and as such can provide a joined-up service with regard to the provision of NMH support.

Please call 0118 378 8921/6602 or email

Coursework extensions and marking stickers

Students can apply for an extension for written assignments/coursework if they have faced 'extenuating circumstances' such as personal, medical or family problems that have negatively affecting their academic performance. Being disabled does not automatically constitute an extenuating circumstance, but a period of ill health due to an existing health condition may.

Depending on their individual circumstances they may also be granted 5 working day extensions as a reasonable adjustment.

Students with specific learning difficulties can be awarded empathetic marking. They will be issued with a sticker to attach to coursework and examinations. This indicates to the markers that their work should not penalised for poor spelling, grammar and syntax (except where these are defined as competence standards). Students should contact the Disability Advisory Service for more information.

Computer contribution

University of Reading students who have a low household income may claim back the £200 student contribution toward the cost of a new DSA computer. This can be reimbursed after the DSA computer has been purchased. Students should contact the Student Financial Support team or the Disability Advisory Service to find out whether they are eligible for this. They will need to make sure they keep the receipt of your purchase.


The university uses Yuja Lecture Capture system to provide students with recordings of lectures, and we have a limited number of GLEAN notetaking licences for students with higher needs, though DSA-funded note taking support may still be necessary for students who may severely struggle with this area. There is a University policy in place which typically permits students to make an audio recording of a lecture. Permission to make audio recordings of teaching sessions other than lectures may be left to the discretion of the member of staff leading the session.

Microsoft Office

University of Reading students have free access to Office 365, allowing them to download Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint on to up to five different personal devices, as well as have access to 1TB of online storage via OneDrive. For more information see our student IT guide. The University has speech-to-text software and some assistive technology installed on all devices, including loan laptops which are available from our library.

Social mentoring

Where students face potential barriers to transitioning to university life due to specific difficulties with managing the social demands that this entails, the university may be able to provide a social mentor to help. These are usually second/third year students who can spend time with new students during the first few weeks of term to help them to manage any difficulties they face. The social mentor role is broad ranging and responds to the specific requirements of each student, from help with joining university clubs and funding their way around campus, to just someone to meet for a coffee and chat.

This support is primarily, but not exclusively, for students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder/Severe Anxiety and if it is identified in the needs assessment that this would be of benefit, assessors are welcome to state in section D-1 of the report that this support may be available, subject to approval by the Disability Advisory Service.

Please note, this support is not intended to replace DSA-funded specialist mentoring, and a student in receipt of DSA who felt that they would benefit from social mentoring would be expected to have funding for specialist mentoring in place.


The University of Reading has three campuses; Whiteknights, London Road and Greenlands. Postcodes for each of these, for calculating travel costs for example, are at the bottom of the university homepage.