This page has been created by a current Lucy student living with a disability, based on her personal experiences. She wishes to remain anonymous, but please reach out through out contact form if you would like to be put in contact with a fellow student who is aware of what college life is like with a disability.
Why choose Lucy as a student with a disability?
There are a number of reasons why Lucy Cavendish is a good college to apply to:
- It is small and friendly with a very supportive pastoral care team.
- There is provision for onsite accommodation for your whole degree.
- There are a number of different types of accommodation –with ensuite bathroom and accessible kitchen facilities.
- The college amenities are all within a few minutes of each other – library, common room, dining hall, gym, laundry services.
- The college has a slightly more mature feeling than other Cambridge colleges, and there are women here from many walks of life.
Things to consider before choosing Lucy:
Distance from the city centre: the college is around a 15 minute walk at average speed to the city centre. The routes to get into the centre of town vary – passing across Magdalen Bridge tends to be very busy and the pavements are narrow, while taking the routes past The Backs tends to be quieter and the pavements are much wider and more level.
When should I disclose that I have a disability?
This is completely up to you. The sooner that you let the college know however, the sooner they are able to put things in place to best support you.
I let Lucy Cavendish know about my disability before the open day. They were able to make provision for me to stay in college the night before the day and were continuously supportive and understanding throughout the whole application process. Personally, I feel that not telling them would have made things a lot more difficult.
The application process and interview
The Cambridge application process has a number of different components. Explaining any gaps in your employment or educational background that are due to medical reasons is definitely worthwhile.
Feel free to let the college know of any adjustments that would make the process easier for you. This might be things like being able to stay in college the night before your interview so that you are well rested, ensuring that all interviews are in fully accessible rooms, ensuring that the different interviews and written exam are spread out over the day, having a quiet place to rest, having provision for extra time and, if it would be helpful, having your interviewers being aware of any extra challenges you may face in the interview. The amount you disclose is completely a personal decision
The college will want to know that you are able to deal with the strenuous nature of a Cambridge degree – but as part of that they are bound and committed to making reasonable adjustments so that you can succeed and have a good time here. Having some examples of times that you have dealt with a high workload or stress are always good, so that you can prove you are able to succeed in spite of anything extra you have to deal with.
Formal disability provision
The disability resource centre (DRC) are the university body that focus on supporting students with disabilities and health conditions. After you have received an offer from Cambridge they will contact you and look to put together a student support document (SSD) which outlines the reasonable adjustments that the college and university are bound to make. The creation of this document was a very collaborative process for me, and with my permission it was shared with my Director of Studies and my Tutor so that they could make provisions.
The SSD can be as broad as it needs to be, covering adjustments that effect all aspects of your life – from being able to record lectures to ensuring a certain type of accommodation.
Once you are here
It is sometimes helpful to see life at Cambridge as split up into a number of different components:
- Your Director of Studies is your first port of call for anything of an academic nature.
- Do not be afraid to ask for extensions to deadlines or to ask for something to be changed if it’s not working.
- Something as simple as changing a supervision location can make a huge difference to how easy it is to get through a day here – and your DoS should want to help with this.
- The first term at Cambridge is difficult for everyone, and if you have extra health or physical needs it can be even more challenging. Bearing with it and calling out anything that needs changing – either to your DoS, Tutor or directly to the DRC will ensure changes can be made.
- Cambridge as an institution is still relatively bureaucratic and this can be incredibly frustrating, but Lucy Cavendish is a great place to be. The college is forward looking and has seemed to me to genuinely desire to deal with any challenges head on so that I really do enjoy my time here.
- Each student has a Personal Tutor who is available to help and support with any pastoral care.
- My relationship with my tutor has been one of the key things that has made my time at Cambridge easier. She is always a friendly and supportive person to see and has helped in a number of different ways: from organising provision for me to get taxis to liasing with my DoS when I have been unwell and unable to engage with all of my academic work.
- The thing that is most striking about Cambridge is the variety of social opportunities that are on offer.
- Many things are college based and many society based which is great because you can meet people from different colleges with similar interests.
- I would say that prioritising social life as well as academic life has made my time here so much better than it could have been. Knowing that I have friends to see every day, and fun events to go to makes working and dealing with being unwell at times so much more bearable.