Work & Education

The benefits of further education if you’re disabled

As a disabled person, you might regard studying for further qualifications as something that is potentially difficult and not worth the effort. But, with the help and support available for disabled students and the enormous benefits studying has, it’s definitely worth considering. Here, Able Magazine details the benefits and important factors to consider with further education.

Education is about far more than learning and can really help to enrich your life. It can help you gain independence, learn new skills, make you more employable, build social connections and develop all-round as a person.

So, despite any reservations you might have, here’s why you should consider it…

The purpose of further education

On the face of it, education might seem to be based on finding out about things that you didn’t know before. That’s a simple definition.

But education also gives people goals and purpose. It takes work and dedication but the outcomes are certainly worthwhile.

Options for further education

Education isn’t necessarily how you envisage it. Different options will appeal to different people, so if you don’t want to sit in a classroom or lecture hall you could opt for a distance learning or correspondence course.

There are definite pros and cons to both methods, including convenience and those associated with access and facilities – although there are usually solutions to the cons.

Similarly, as far as courses are concerned, there are hundreds of options regarding subject matter, and a range of levels to consider.

There is a world of difference between further education and studying the prescribed curriculum of your schooldays. Study what you want to study – and enjoy it!

Employability after studying

One of the obvious motivators behind deciding to study is to improve your employability. Lots of companies and organisations are signed up to the Disability Confident scheme.

Organisations at level 2 of the scheme commit to offering an interview to any disabled person that meets the minimum criteria of the job. In many cases, this will include qualifications.

Furthermore, making the commitment to gain a new understanding or qualification in a subject is always admirable. This is not least by employers who, on the whole, are looking for people with a bit of ‘get up and go’.

Also, people fresh from studying are often regarded as having new ideas and thinking to draw on.

Rows of books on shelves in a library

Financial help for disabled students

The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a grant that’s made available to help with the extra costs of studying people may have as a result of disability or a long-term health condition. Including any new equipment or technology you may need. DSAs are not loans, so don’t have to be paid back, unless you leave your course early.

It’s also important to remember that they are not a ‘benefit’ either, so cannot be claimed for anything other than extra disability-related costs or expenses you have while studying. These have to be over and above those provided as reasonable adjustments by the college or university.

There are four allowances covering different areas of need: specialist equipment allowance, non-medical helper’s allowance, general and other expenditure allowance and travel costs.

Holistic benefits

Going away to university can seem like a daunting prospect if you’re disabled. For example, it may be the first time you’ve been away from home for a significant length of time, putting your resourcefulness to the acid test.

However, this backdrop of education makes it a truly holistic experience. Learning independence and how to live with other people, in halls of residence, etc, is a highly valuable experience.

Support for disabled students

Leaving home to go to university is not a gamble based on how well you’ll survive. Colleges and universities will have staff trained to help disabled people reach their full potential as students.

This includes a range of aspects, such as making sure educational facilities are correct and accommodation is appropriate as well as other parts of the experience, such as accessing leisure facilities and so on.

Inevitable change

Ask many people and they’ll tell you that they feel confined to their current career path, rather than inspired by it. Many would give anything to have the time and resources to make a change based on re-qualifying.

If you’re able to do so, you’re actually in an enviable position to look around and study towards your dream career.

The satisfaction of education

Education can be enjoyable and satisfying – gaining a qualification or accreditation is really just the icing on the cake!

Further information about finding a university course, visit the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and Complete University Guide websites.

By Able Magazine


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