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College & University

Entering Higher or Further Education can be another critical moment when dyslexia becomes more obvious. It may be that the person has developed good coping strategies for school, but these are less effective when they are expected to work more independently at a much higher level.

Many people only find out they are dyslexic learners when they go to college or university. They often think that it is impossible that they have progressed so far through the education system without their difficulties being identified.
There are usually three reasons for this:

a) schools are often not efficient in identifying dyslexia,

b) the student has worked extremely hard, putting in long hours to “cover up” their issues and

c) they are less supported and supervised by parents and teachers at higher levels of education.

In our experience, higher workloads are also an issue. Where students have taken significant additional time to complete assignments in the past, they find that there are no longer “enough hours in the day”. Stress and anxiety are very common in this group. Students may experience particular difficulties with organisation and time management. Meeting deadlines is a big issue. They are likely to find it very hard to put together long pieces of writing when they have to refer to many different sources of information. Happily, most colleges and universities are good at supporting students with dyslexia.

Colleges and Universities have to follow the Equality Act (2010) which took over from the Disability Discrimination Act (1995). They have a legal responsibility to recognise and deal appropriately with dyslexia. That is, they must make “adjustments” for students with dyslexia.

Special financial assistance, the “Disabled Students Allowance” (DSA) is available to help people with recognised disabilities in higher education. Some FE Colleges offer courses which may also qualify for this support.

The site says: ”DSAs are grants to help meet the extra course costs students face because of a disability. For example, DSAs can help pay for:

Specialist equipment you need for studying like computer software

Non-medical helpers, such as a note-taker or reader

Extra travel costs you have to pay because of your disability

Other costs such as photocopying or printer cartridges

DSAs are paid on top of the standard student finance package, or on their own.
You don’t have to pay DSAs back and they’re not counted as income when working out whether you get benefits or Tax Credits.”

A document called “Bridging the Gap” which explains about the DSA is available for download at the above site. Usually, a specialist assessment report is necessary. Please contact the student disability office or Solihull Dyslexia Centre if you are in this position. We can help. We certify that our assessments are conducted and reports written in accordance with the SpLD Working Group 2005/DfES Guidelines for Assessment of SpLDs in Higher Education.


Usually, “special examination access arrangements” in the form of extra time, readers or writers (scribes or amanuensis) are available. A specialist report is usually necessary. Please contact the student disability office or Solihull Dyslexia Centre if you need further advice.

Solihull Dyslexia Centre