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Navigating Oxford With A Chronic Illness - Part Two

By Annie M/@annwins.adventures

If you are a student with a chronic illness or disability, the idea of going to one of the most academically rigorous universities in the world may seem incredibly daunting. How do you keep up? What if issues arise? Are there sufficient support systems? In this guide, I'll show you how to make the most of Oxford's disability services and other tips, ensuring you have an enriching experience that is hopefully a little more manageable.


These tips were written with chronic illnesses, disabilities, mental health difficulties and neurodivergence in mind, but they can also be helpful for everybody, even those who simply know another is suffering.


Click here if you would like to read Part One of Navigating Oxford With A Chronic Illness.



4. Contact Oxford’s Disability Advisory Service.

By this point all the acronyms may be confusing, DSA is the government-funded disability support and the DAS is Oxford’s own Disability Advisory Service. After you get your DSA entitlement letter, you will probably need to contact the DAS anyway to arrange support - confused yet? I sure am!


Oxford’s DAS can provide a lot of support to students through accommodations, accessing assessments for specific learning disabilities (like dyslexia and dyscalculia), teaching adjustments, assistive technologies, extended licenses and making student support plans. Their services were massively helpful to me when on the open day, I found out that I didn’t have an accessible toilet. I contacted them afterwards and they moved me to a different quad so I would have an accessible toilet, which was incredibly helpful! Email them with your support needs and the DSA needs assessment report if available, and they can help you before you even get there. Once I got my student email, I was also invited to a Zoom lecture where they explained support available in-depth and there was even a Canvas class I could join which would allow me to book a meeting with a disability advisor.

If you need to contact them, their email is disability@admin.ox.ac.uk



5. Register With a University Doctor.

Once you've been accepted, the university typically sends a reminder email to register with a doctor. However, in case you missed it or forgot, here's a friendly nudge! You can visit http://www.campusdoctor.co.uk/oxford to easily sign up with your local college doctor. While it's beneficial for everyone, it's especially crucial for those who need frequent medical attention.



6. Networking for Help.

Leverage your support network, like friends or family, to ease certain challenges. For instance, when it comes to moving in and out each term I’ll enlist my mum's help by gradually sending her back with non-essential items, reducing the packing and carrying burden at the end of term. By the way, you can pay for an Extended License in some colleges to stay at the university between term times, but this wasn’t in my budget so this was my way around it. Ensure you've set up emergency contacts on your phone and registered them with the University for added security. You can also access mental health help within the university, offering counselling to students and surprisingly even Podcasts!


In conclusion, navigating Oxford University with a chronic illness or disability demands careful planning and leveraging available resources. From considering a gap year for health management to creating a personalized "first-aid kit" and applying for Disabled Student's Allowance, these steps can help ensure a smoother academic journey. Don't forget to connect with Oxford's Disability Advisory Service, register with a university doctor, and utilize your support network for assistance. With these strategies, your Oxford experience can be manageable and rewarding, regardless of health challenges.


Useful Resources:

· Headspace – has meditations for concentration, chronic pain, sleeping issues and mental health.

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