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Information for Parents and Carers

Learner Development Service

University Brings Change - Parents and carers have a great deal of experience in supporting a child throughout the growing up years, perhaps particularly so when they are disabled or have a long term health condition. It is a huge change for all concerned once they become an adult and begin university life, whether they leave home at that point or not. It is well recognised that this is a stressful time and requires a period of adjustment for all concerned.

"Strangers don't know her like I do, all her little ways. I was worried they might not give her the right help."
(Mother of student who is a wheelchair user)

"I didn't know what to do with myself for the first few weeks. I kept worrying that he wasn't coping or that he wasn't making friends."
(Mother of a student with Asperger's)

Some students may have difficulties identified once they begin their studies, or indeed at any point in the course, and this can be a cause of concern to parents too.

"I had no idea he was dyslexic, I'm so angry that this wasn't found out before he got to university."
(Father of Student)

Developing Independence
A large part of university education is concerned with developing independence and autonomy, along with many other skills necessary to adult working life, including communicating with staff, managing workloads and accessing sources of support.
This period of change and transition is very important to any young adult's personal development and can be seen as an essential stage in their development (Baker, 2006).
Managing the multiple new situations that are a part of university life requires students to generate useful coping strategies and these in turn increase the capacity for growth and change in all areas of life.
In other words, it is good and desirable for a student to take on responsibility for themselves.

What to Expect
At MMU a Disability Service Adviser will meet with the student to ensure that they are fully aware of the services we offer, as well as their own responsibilities. We do understand why parents may wish to attend this appointment however the Data Protection Act (1998) prohibits us from freely sharing information about the student and this includes parents and carers.

At MMU the Disability Service provide clear contact details so that students can telephone or email us. Students may also call into the Disability Service Office, where an adviser can help with problems or queries.

Click here for our Statement of Service

How Can I Help?
It would be useful for a parent to help the student to make a brief list that they can bring to their appointment which includes previous support that they have received at school or college, together with the student's main areas of difficulty in an educational setting.

Some Useful Web Links
We hope that these links will assist parents and carers with information regarding specific disabilities and health conditions, although it is recognised that this is not a comprehensive list.


Baker, A. (2006). What else do students need? A psychodynamic reflection on students' need for support from staff at university. Active learning in Higher Education. 7(2):171-183

Houghton, A.M. (2005). Getting through the gate is only the first hurdle: a review of disabled students' support needs throughout the student lifecycle. Available from:

Jacklin, A. and Robinson,C. (2007). What is meant by 'support' in higher education? Towards a model of academic and welfare support. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs. 7:2. 114 - 123