We want all applicants with strong academic potential to consider studying at St Catharine’s, regardless of any disability, illness or learning difficulty they may have. Many applicants need individualised consideration of the support they need to apply successfully to the College, and to thrive once they become a student here. These include:
Applicants with a disability – those with a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities
Applicants with a short-term injury or illness, particularly around the time of interview
Applicants with specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) such as dyslexia or dyspraxia
Applicants with autism may also require special consideration, whether or not they also have an SpLD
We worry that many candidates do not declare disabilities because they fear it will affect their chances of gaining a place. We can assure you that this is not the case, and that the more information we have about your individual needs, the more help we can offer. When you apply to St Catharine’s we strongly recommend that you declare anything which might affect your ability to participate in college and university life. Of particular importance are:
Your safety in the college – for example if you need to evacuate from a building during a fire
Your ability to access resources (e.g rooms, online resources, social events) at the College and your department/faculty
There will be opportunities during the online application process for you to state disabilities or SpLDs you may have. .
Once you have an offer of a place to study at the University, you should contact the University’s Disability Resource Centre (DRC). They will probably create a ‘Student Support Document’ which details the support you need, and if you give permission (which we advise you do!) this will be sent to the College and your subject department. Please refer to our advice on accessing financial support as a student of the University of Cambridge.
You should also consider e-mailing the College’s postgraduate administrator even before the DRC produces their advice, because we can start thinking about who here might be able to help – we have a dedicated Tutor for Disabilities, a College Nurse, a Health and Safety Officer, and the porters often advise on safety, as well.
Of course, many students do not really know what help they will need until they start here, or whether they will need any help at all – so they often simply commence their academic and non-academic life here and ‘see how it goes’. This is absolutely fine, and indeed makes a great deal of sense, but we still encourage you to declare any disabilities or other factors as soon as possible, so timely support can be provided if it is ever needed.
For more information, you can also read St Catharine's Accessibility Guide.