Written by Abigail
BSc (Hons) Psychology
When it comes to making your choice around universities, you shouldn’t be focused on just their rating or teaching side of things. Their social side, accessibility and facilities they provide should play an important role.
One of the main reasons I knew Bournemouth University was the university for me was the support they offer in terms of both physical and mental health needs – both in subtle support and their offer around major intervention. They provide an ALS (additional learning support) system which supplies personalised, secure and constant support for me at university. Being a student with additional mental and physical needs this was important to establish from the start. They helped provide reasonable adjustments, the staff were incredibly friendly, understanding and easy to talk to; unlike other experiences. I’ve had friends that needed support later and they’ve always been happy to help.
On campus, BU has its own medical practice, a well-being service, and more – and that’s not even what the university staff themselves provide! These facilities and the support BU was able to offer me made my choice to study here feel right. More subtle things that the university also has that made my parents feel more secure that I wasn’t going to struggle with accessibility, is all the the physical support around the university. Every set of stairs has a handrail, all buildings have multiple lifts to access all the floors – they even have an accessibility ramp with handrails for not only an alternative to every set of stairs but as an accessibility alternative to a ramp! This was unlike a lot of campuses I saw, where there were limited alternative routes or longer ones out of the way of a direct passage to classes, and old, slow lifts or none at all. These subtle adjustments around the campus may not be noticed by everybody, but for me it shows that BU really care about their students.
Staff can also offer other support systems for you such as providing accessible lecture content, having the lecturers release content at least 24 hours in advance and providing clubs and societies that fit all student capabilities and abilities, physical and mental.
If you have different challenges produced by having either mental or physical disabilities (or both) – or things viewed as disadvantages – it can make it difficult to know if the choice you are making is actually what you both want and need. You need to find a safe balance of finding the university that can juggle both your wants from a uni such as a social scene, food, location, grades, and also what you from a support system, like easy routes home, local hospital systems etc.
Personally for me, my home town is Eastbourne and this can mean a journey of roughly 2-3 hours in the car (or a train journey with two easy changes). This was an important factor for both me and my support system at home – my parents – as I am far away enough to have the independence I want, but also close enough that people can come to me easily within a day and I can also reurn home for any reason both personal and medical, which is what I need.
Your university at the end of the day is still YOUR choice. However you need to be practical. Luckily, I have found that staff at Bournemouth University show that they care about their students, especially those with additional needs, but equally they won’t wrap you in cotton wool.
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