At University with a Disability

My Undergraduate Open Day Experience 2014

I was anxious to go to my chosen open days but I knew that seeing the campus and viewing the course I would intend to study is important to do in person as opposed to just online. As a potential student with a disability I knew that it was imperative to visit these open days in person and get all the information I could, as well as the general feel of everything so that if I did choose to study there, there would be no unwelcome surprises.

As well as visiting the University and seeing if I liked the course, the facilities and the campus, I was interested to see the city around it. I wouldn’t just want to spend time on campus or in my dormitory, I would want to go and enjoy what the city has to offer. Unfortunately, I already had to rule out Bangor University in Wales because of the lack of access around the city, the rural paths, and the number of hills in the vicinity. I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy student life to the extent that I hoped to. So these reservations were a sure element when I went forth and explored cities around the other Universities I had an interest in.  

Using the information I received via my booking I tried to plan out the individual open days as best as I could, factoring in travel accessibility facilities and the overall campus experience. However, I know that if I really wanted to see what it was like to study at the University I would have to do my best to let the day run its course without thinking too hard about it. I knew it was important to get a feel for the overall atmosphere and environment of the University. 

With that being said, let me share with you my undergraduate open-day experience.

NOTE: I attended these open days back in 2014 and so these courses, the campuses, and the facilities may be subject to change.

Southampton Solent University 

The University caught my eye through the strength of the journalism course and I also loved the city. Everything is within walking distance of each other with the main city centre and train station in the middle. Yes, the distance was an issue and I would have to live in student accommodation. The adapted accommodation was dated, but good. I was able to speak to a student there and see her room. It was very big, twice the size of a regular room, with an en-suite bathroom. While we were viewing the accommodation, the student told us about an organisation called Ask Jules. 

Ask Jules turned out to be a family-found organisation that assists students with disabilities during their time at University to get the best experience they can. They themselves have a family member with a disability who wanted to go to university but couldn’t find any suitable support for him and therefore set up their own organisation to help others. I decided to do more research as a potential student when I returned home from the open day.

READ MORE on the following:

  • Via the Ask Jules website 
  • Ask Jules and YOU
  • The Ask Jules Process
  • My Ask Jules Experience Part 1
  • My Ask Jules Experience Part 2

I felt reassured to know about this organisation prior to me starting University and I was really grateful for the student informing me. I also had friends of family around Southampton who I knew would be there too. I absolutely loved the city and how everything seemed to be within walking distance with the train station not far from the city centre. The campus at Solent was small with only a few buildings, but I liked it, nice and open and so I attended lectures on the journalism course.


The Journalism course was the initial course that caught my interest. It had good facilities and we were able to see inside the studios where I would be working. I really liked the ratio between theory and practice that the course would present me with through the three years of study.

As I liked the look of the course I spoke directly with the person giving the talk, who at first, was hesitant, before admitting that a few of the practical modules would be challenging with only one working hand. I suggested alternative ways I could complete the practical module, stressing that I had done similar things and handled similar equipment as part of my media studies at college, but he seemed adamant that this wouldn’t be possible for me.

I was very unimpressed by his blatant disregard for anything I had to say, and annoyed with his attitude.  I decided it wasn’t worth my time or effort; studying journalism at Southampton Solent University was no longer an option for me.

Media Culture & Production 

The open day at the university was very busy and there were a lot of course lecturers happening, so I decided to look at similar courses to journalism to see if any of those interested me. I saw the course Media, Culture and Production which had theory and practical modules based on video photography radio and online platforms. I liked the fact that the course covered all of these sectors, each having the bone industry-focused content to study. 

The lecturers seemed much more approachable than the ones on the journalism course and listened to me when I spoke about the difficulties I may have. I was pleased and happy to hear that they would alter my work or adapt what was involved to help me complete the practical modules as best I could.

Viewing this course put Southampton Solent University back on my list which I would consider when I came to fill out my application. It did mean however, I would possibly have to consider living away from home again because of the distance but I thought that I would cross that bridge when it came to it.

University of Chester

The second University I considered was the University of Chester. At this university, I decided to look at a completely different course than the one before: Events Management and Journalism. I thought the course was a good combination and appealed to a creative and business side that I hadn’t considered. Unfortunately, my course was based at the Warrington campus in Chester as opposed to the main campus which was a disappointment.

The disability team at the Warrington campus of the University of Chester listened to my needs and seemed keen to put the arrangement in place for me to become a student there. Hearing that I wanted to stay with all the residents they suggested putting in particular adaptations for me to have a more comfortable stay in the halls. I liked the team as they were more than happy to help me outside of the course compared to some universities who seemed focused on what support they could offer me on campus. Clubs and societies at the Warrington campus were good and I could see myself getting involved in them if I were to become a student. All the students at the Warrington campus seemed more than happy with the little community they had.

Event Management in Journalism was the first joint honours degree that I had considered studying. I liked how they were described as two courses covering all the different areas within each sector. I was nervous that joint honours would be extra pressure as they were treated as two separate courses but both teams seemed well aware of what the other expected of the students.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t overlook the fact that the Warrington campus is so far out of the city of Chester. I would be isolated from student communities and if we wanted to enjoy life in the city of Chester, it would be difficult for me to get suitable transport in and out of the city. I enjoyed the sound of the course and it would have been one of my top considerations but I just couldn’t ignore the location of the campus and how I would feel when it came to me enjoying the full University experience

Having to refuse this course was extremely disappointing and remained on my mind months after my visit on the open day.

University of Northampton

Events Management and Journalism was also the course that I decided to look at when I visited an open day at the University of Northampton. The course did have some similarities to the course at the University of Chester, both being treated as separate courses but complementing each other as well. However, the University of Northampton seemed to offer more hands-on experience in both areas of the course. Events Management would allow students the opportunity to put on a live event,  while Journalism gave students a chance to work on a newspaper. I loved the extent of hands-on learning experience we, as students, would be given.

The University had a good support team who seemed happy to be of assistance if I were to come to study there. Facilities were good on campus with lots of clubs, societies and activities to get involved in. Bedrooms within the adapted accommodation were a decent size and had an en-suite bathroom. The staff were willing to put any other necessary equipment in the room such as an intercom system.

In all, I liked the look of the University of Northampton but I wasn’t entirely sure whether I could see myself attending there.

Staffordshire University

Two separate undergraduate courses caught my eye at Staffordshire University, Journalism and Radio Production. Travelling to and from would be easy as there were regular trains from my hometown to Stoke-on-Trent. It was a reassurance as I was going to look at the adapted accommodation but wanted to make sure it would be suitable even if I decided to commute instead.

On the open day I felt everyone, staff and students alike, was very warm and welcoming. There were a number of students who were wheelchair users or that were disabled which made me feel immediately at ease as I could see the appropriate facilities and adaptations there were for these students which I could also benefit from . It set a good precedent even before I had a chance to look around as a potential student.

The campus had a good feel to it. It was quaint, but modern, with different buildings for different facilities but everything had a nice community feel to it. Clubs and societies helped make up a lot of the student-based life. I really could see myself getting involved in the events and activities there as well as the clubs and societies that were available.

Staffordshire University’s disability team were very helpful and understanding, of the needs I had and the arrangements I would need as a potential student. Nothing we said seemed to phase them and they explained that they would work closely with the course team to help me facilitate my three years of study. The experience they had was evident and for this, I was very reassured. 

If I were going to study at Staffordshire University, I would possibly live in student accommodation so I arranged to see an adapted accommodation and I was fortunate to meet a student with a disability who showed me hers. I could see how big the room was and what different adaptations there were in there.  I know it is student and disability dependent but it still gave me an idea of what we would get and the type of things I could ask for. I was pleased to see that I would get an ensuite bathroom with a suitable shower as it would give me that extra bit of privacy and it would facilitate my needs better. A hoist was placed in this bedroom which was great to see as it was a key piece of equipment that I would need to use. I was also able to ask this student questions about life as a student at Staffordshire University and get a first-hand, honest account of life around campus as a disabled student.

During my time at the Staffordshire University open day, I decided to look at two courses, Journalism and Radio Production.


I was interested to learn about the theory and practical modules that were offered on the journalism course, having already seen similar ones at other universities. Staffordshire University had the perfect ratio of the area and practice and based work with exciting opportunities to get involved with such as creating a magazine or getting involved in a professional NewsDay. I was particularly interested in having time in the radio Studios, possibly hosting a show or working with other students on professional news days, performing a news broadcast.

The course had some similarities with the radio production course but this one really seemed more active and exciting to help students gain practical skills that we may use in the future. I really admired the tutors’ commitment to helping make the course current and as interactive as they did. 

Unfortunately, there was the challenge of completing exams as part of the course, which I have never been the best at and this would make me very nervous and apprehensive. However, the pros of the course were very great and it was definitely a promising option.

Radio Production 

The second of the two courses that caught my eye at Staffordshire University was Radio Production. My brother made the point of informing me that radio was a dying field compared to the rest of the industry but I was determined to get the experience and enjoy the course anyway. There were no exams expected within this course so that was most definitely a tick in the right box.

I was really interested in being a part of a radio team or even hosting my own show and this would give me practical experience. We, as students, would also be allowed over studio time and make use of the great facilities there were at Staffordshire University. I felt it would help me grow personally as well as professionally as it would help me with my confidence in speaking to different groups of people.

Overall, I liked the idea of the course and everything involved, including the facilities and opportunities it gave students. I was sure to consider this course as an option when filling out my final application.

Birmingham City University

The final University that I decided to look at was Birmingham City University (BCU). Out of all the Universities that I visited, this one was closest to home. Although it was close to home, I still enquired about suitable accommodation just for curiosity. Unfortunately, the only disability-adapted accommodation was located in Perry Barr, which was on the opposite side of Birmingham to Millennium Point where my chosen course of undergraduate Media Production was. I was disappointed by the distance and the disadvantages this would have on my social life. My newly found friends and classmates would be living around where the course was based and my hallmates would be on the other side. Both scenarios would cause me to feel isolated and I didn’t want this for my undergraduate study. Therefore it was decided that if I did choose to study at BCU I was going to live at home. 

The disability team at Millennium Point were apologetic about the location of the disabled accommodation in coordination with my course and then admitted that the campus did not currently have any hoists in the disabled toilets. I did find this weird and disheartening as it can be a very important piece of equipment for those with disabilities such as mine. I wouldn’t be able to study my course and be there hour after hour on campus without needing one. The team reassured me that if I chose to study at the University they would equip me with a hoist by the start of the academic year.

Student life at the Millennium Point campus was very active, with a lot of clubs and societies to get involved with on campus. Millennium Point also was in the middle of the town centre so there was lot going on and activities and events to get involved in.

The Media Production course at Millennium Point was a very similar undergraduate course to the one at Southampton Solent University. All of the different sectors within Media were touched upon within the degrees and there was great access to studios and other facilities which all looked newly refurbished. Birmingham City University’s version caught my interest because it offered a module in photography and a module in events management which was everything I was looking at rolled into one course. It was ideal!

Leaving the Birmingham City University open day I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I very much liked the university and the course it offered, but felt let down by the lack of disability awareness and motivation by the team themselves. If I were to apply to the university I would have to do some serious thinking about my options and make regular checks with the disability team to ensure everything was put into place in time for me to study there.


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