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Disabled students' rights

This page looks at the rights of disabled students to access suitable accommodation whilst studying at college or university.

What kind of accommodation will be available to me?

Most students live in either:

  • university owned accommodation such as halls of residence or shared flats or houses
  • private rented accommodation.

Read the page on finding student accommodation for more information on what these different kinds of accommodation offer.

Will university owned accommodation be suitable for me?

All colleges and universities should have a disability adviser (sometimes called a learning support co-ordinator, a disability officer or a special needs adviser). Before you apply for a course, it's a good idea to get in touch with the disability adviser to discuss your support needs for studying, getting about campus and accommodation. You can find contact details for advisers:

Most universities will have accommodation designed to meet the needs of disabled people, so talk to the disability adviser about any adaptations you need.

What are my rights in university owned accommodation?

Read the page on your rights in student accommodation to find out more about your tenancy rights if you live in university owned accommodation.

In addition, you also have rights under the Equality Act 2010 . Under this Act, colleges and universities have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to their services and premises to ensure that you aren't at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled students. This covers all services provided by the college or university, including accommodation. This means that:

  • the university or college cannot refuse you accommodation because you are disabled
  • the university or college must make every reasonable attempt to provide you with accommodation that is accessible and suited to your needs
  • your accommodation must be of the same standard as that of non-disabled students.

You can find out more in our section on disability discrimination.

What if my student accommodation isn't suitable?

If your accommodation isn't suitable, speak to the accommodation service, the disability adviser or a Student Union welfare officer. They may be able to solve the problem for you, for example by arranging for you to move to different accommodation or for adaptations to be made to your current accommodation.

If you think the college or university is discriminating against you, you can:

  • make an official complaint using your university's complaint system
  • get advice and help from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
  • take your case to the sheriff court. If you are considering this option, get advice from a solicitor, Citizens Advice, the EHRC or a disability advice centre. Use the Dial UK or Update websites to find an agency near you.

What about private rented accommodation?

Many students rent accommodation through a private landlord or letting agent. Read the page on disabled people's rights to find out more.

How will I pay for my accommodation?

Most students are not eligible to claim housing benefit. However, if you are disabled and have a low income, you may be eligible even if you live in university owned accommodation.

You may be able to claim other benefits to help you with your living costs or be entitled to financial support for students. You could also be entitled to help with paying for any care and support if it is required.

Find out more

For more information about accessible housing, contact your local independent living centre or support centre. You can find these listed at the National Council for Independent Living (NCIL) website.

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The important points

  • Most universities will have accommodation designed to meet the needs of disabled people.
  • In addition to your statutory rights, you also have rights under the Equality Act 2010.
  • If your accommodation isn't suitable, speak to the accommodation service, the disability adviser or a Student Union welfare officer.
  • Most students are not eligible to claim housing benefit. However, if you are disabled and have a low income, you may be eligible even if you live in university owned accommodation.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

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