Funding support for students with a disability

Most students registering with the Disability Service request access to a range of supports that help the student to reach their full potential while studying. Most student needs are accommodated through these supports. Some of these disability student supports are co-funded by the Department of Education and Skills and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

Funding for these supports is not provided to individual students as is the case for the Diabled Student Allowance in the UK.

After registering online, students who desire specialist disability supports will be invited to meet with a member of the Disability Service team (Disability Officer/Occupational Therapist) on a one-to-one basis to discuss specialist disability supports. The student decides on the level of support that they require. All students in this category will have a full needs assessment and a Learning Educational Needs Assessment (LENS) report is produced for these students.


General Student Finance (e.g. tuition fees and loans) Students are often eligible to apply for a loan which can help to pay for university tuition fees and to help with living costs. Funding arrangements differ depending on the personal circumstances of the student and the chosen course. This process can take a long time so we would recommend applying early to give you the best possible chance of having funding in place in time for the start of your course. You can find more information here

The Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) is an EU / government funding initiative intended to cover the extra costs of having a disability, long-term condition, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty such as an autistic spectrum condition, dyslexia or dyspraxia.  The Disability Service applies to the fund for supports for all eligible students. 

NB: We recognise that not everyone who has an autistic spectrum condition would use the word ‘disabled’ about themselves. However, FSD is the main way to access support for your study needs at the start of your course and beyond, so it is important to know all about it.

Most autistic students who have been officially diagnosed with an autistic spectrum condition, and are studying on an eligible course, are entitled to be supported under FSD – it is not related to any other benefits or allowance.

  • One-to-one support (such as a specialist mentor)
  • Specialist equipment (including useful software, such as mind mapping to help you make sense of a topic)
  • Respite space in which to take sensory breaks.

The FSD does not cover costs that all students would have to pay for, like buying textbooks or standard laptops or tickets for the bus to and from university. FSD is not paid directly to the student.

How could this affect me?

Autistic students who availa of supports are less likely to drop out of university and more likely to achieve their full potential. Whether or not you received, or felt you needed support during school or college, university life is very different from the type of study you have been used to and getting the right support in place can make your life a lot easier.

The timing of the support is important too – students who had all their support in place before the end of the first semester had a much better experience than those students who did not access support. This means contacting the Disability Service as early as possible is a very good idea – and attending any orientation events offered to you.

You can also choose to access support at any point throughout your studies, even if you haven’t previously told the university about your autism, or if you receive a diagnosis of autism following commencement of your studies. Your support can also be reviewed and amended at any time if you find your needs have changed during your course or the support you have in place is not really working for you. The Disability Service is available for you to contact at any point.

What to do next?

Visit the Disability Service website and read the Disability Service Registration Process

Practical tips

Registration with the Disability Service can be broken down into 11 easy steps and most of it takes place online at portal which is where you can also complete your registration to your chosen course and see your course timetable and exam timetables. Please note if you have already registered with the Disability Service in previous academic years there is no need to re-register.

Questions to think about

  • How do you feel about making notes in lectures, where most of what is said does not end up on a whiteboard or the PowerPoint slides? It is also not possible to write down every word that is said.
  • Would being able to record lectures help you?
  • How do you make and organise your notes when reading or revising?
  • Do you enjoy going to new places?
  • Do you find new places easily?
  • Does it help to have someone with you when you go somewhere for the first time?
  • What are you most excited about when it comes to your course?
  • What would you like to know more about or might need support to do before you get excited?
  • How do you feel about group work?
  • How do you manage your free time?
  • Are you always on time for appointments without help from someone else?
  • Do you like to be in busy, lively places or quiet places?
  • How do you find out about new topics?
  • Do you find it easy to organise your ideas and structure them in writing?
  • Do you find academic writing easy? How about spelling, punctuation and grammar?
  • Would you like somebody to talk to about your autism who has a good understanding of both autism and university?
  • Do you have any other conditions like dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD?
  • Does it help you to read information from the internet if you can print it out?
  • Who supported you with your work at school and what did they do that was helpful?
  • What helps you when you’re stressed? Music, exercise, art, reading, playing games, talking to others?
  • Did you use any tools like visual schedules, social stories, coloured overlays, coloured paper or alarms to help you at school or college?
  • How do you feel about talking to people about your autism, including tutors and other students?