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Disability Support

Durham University and the Theological Education Institutions delivering Common Awards programmes are committed to inclusive teaching and learning. Inclusive teaching and learning improves access and participation for all students and recognises that students have different needs and experiences. 

What can you expect from the Common Awards team at Durham University? 

The Common Awards team works closely with Theological Education Institutions on a wide range of initiatives around diversity, inclusion and belonging. These include research projects, sharing of best practice between institutions, the creation of resources for staff and studentsand training for staff. The Common Awards Management Board, which oversees this work, is resourced and held to account by our Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group. 

Because of the way in which the Common Awards partnership is set up, Durham University cannot provide individual disability support or advice direct to students. The University also cannot offer individual student assessments. 

The University can provide advice for staff in your institution as they seek to support you in your learning. 

What can you expect from your theological education institution? 

Your institution should: 

  • Provide a clear and accessible way for you to disclose disabilities at the point of application 
  • Make reasonable adjustments so that you have the opportunity to meet the learning outcomes in each module you study. The Common Awards team at Durham University provides guidance to your institution about what kinds of reasonable adjustments may be appropriate 
  • Provide you with information about additional study support, pastoral support and mitigations available to you (e.g. extensions), should your disability have an unexpectedly significant impact on your studies at any point. 

The Common Awards team works with institutions to ensure that, collectively, we continually review our practices of support and inclusion. 

What if I am diagnosed with a disability after this has already had an effect on my academic work? 

Sometimes it becomes apparent in retrospect that a previously undiagnosed condition has been affecting your studies. What action you can take will depend on a range of factors including what stage you are at in your academic programme, exactly what impact your condition had on your studies, and what support you already had in place at the time you were diagnosed. 

You should ask your institution for advice about the appropriate steps to take. Processes such as the Serious Adverse Circumstances procedure are in place to take account of such situations. 

Can I apply for Disability Support Allowance? 

If you are registered on a Common Awards programme, you may be eligible to receive Disability Support Allowance from Student Finance England (and equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). Student Finance England and equivalent bodies do not consider you a Durham University student for statutory support purposes. You should not apply for support as a Durham University student. If you do apply for support as a Durham University student by mistake please contact Financial Support.

If you apply for financial support you should do so as a student of your theological education institution. This means that to be eligible for support you need to be studying at an institution whose delivery of Common Awards programmes has been “designated” for statutory support under the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011. Your institution will be able to tell you whether or not they have this designation. 

What other sources of support are available? 

If you are training for ministry, the Church or other organisation you are training with may be able to provide you with advice and support. 

For ordinands within the Church of England, there are specific support measures that may be available. You should talk to your institution for further information.