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Hi, Tom here – I’m a final year student at BU studying for a degree in Computing. I’ve had an amazing three years learning new things, meeting new people and most importantly having tons of fun along the way, but my story is a little different to most. You see, I have a condition called Cerebral Palsy which means I rely on an electric wheelchair to get around as well as support from a truly awesome team of personal assistants.

However, this has not stopped me from loving every minute of the University experience. So, I thought it would be useful for me to share my 5 top tips for university life on wheels!

  • Get to know your lecturers

The lecturers are super-committed to making sure that everybody gets the most out of their degree, while also having a great time at uni.  Building up a good rapport with a few lecturers can be particularly useful.  Whether you are going through a rough patch or you just want a little bit of advice, this contact can prove invaluable.  I was even lucky enough to work with one of my lecturers on a project about disability and technology. I then presented this work at an industry conference in Cardiff.

  • Make use of Additional Learning Support (ALS)

I met these dedicated members of staff on one of my first visits to BU, they are here to help you with everything from exam support and extra time to study planning.  Even if you just want a chat, they are always happy to see you.  The support they have provided has been crucial to my studies. ALS are situated in the library so always on hand.

  • Start socialising before you even arrive

Social networking can be a fantastic way in which to begin making friendships that can kickstart your time at BU.  There are plenty of conversations and groups available for those who are also about to start their journey eg Facebook. Whether it be people planning to live in the same halls as you or do the same degree, why wait, get chatting!

  • Make the most of Freshers

Freshers is one of the best times to make those friends that will last a lifetime.  Regardless of ability, everyone is in the same boat and very keen to make friends.  I was personally scared that people would judge me because of my disability, but I was wrong!   Put aside your fears and do as much as you can – it’s not necessarily all about alcohol and parties.

  • Have a ball with ResLifeBU

Even after Freshers, the fun doesn’t have to stop.  The great team at ResLifeBU run weekly events at your halls from film nights to Chinese themed evenings. These events are a great way to meet up with the friends you have made on your journey, or even make some new ones!

Overall, Bournemouth Uni is a fantastic place to study regardless of physical ability. The campus is a great environment for navigating on wheels, fellow students and staff are also incredible. If you are considering coming to uni but worry how a physical impairment may affect your studies or social life, I couldn’t encourage you enough to give it serious thought. You have nothing to lose and it could quite literally change your life forever!

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