Equitable Learning/Disability Support for Future Students

There are hundreds of students at UNSW with a variety of disabilities. You won’t be the first and you won’t be alone.

You do need to prepare for your new life at uni. If you are a school leaver, you will find that university is very different from high school. If you are coming from another university, our campus could be completely different and much bigger than you are used to.

The best thing to do is to find out as much as you can about UNSW or any university you are thinking of attending before you enrol. If you have a disability, a medical condition or circumstances that may interfere with your studies, it’s even more important that you feel you can manage your coursework and campus life.

Below, you will find some things to think about before starting university.

Applying for university

  • University application deadlines are generally in September.
  • Make sure you have all the application forms you require.
  • Read the instructions carefully as the forms can be complicated.
  • Get help filling them out if you need it.
  • Collect all your current documentation verifying your disability or medical condition.
  • When you apply for admission through the University Admissions Centre (UAC), you may wish to complete an Educational Access Scheme application indicating that you have a personal illness/disability.
  • Come and see us as soon as you are enrolled. Once you have enrolled, complete the registration process with Equitable Learning Services.
  • To receive educational adjustments, you must register with Equitable Learning Services. Contact us as soon as you can.

Preparing yourself for university

University is not like school. You will need to be much more independent in seeking advice and help. There is plenty of support available to you, but you will have to take the initiative to find it—It isn’t always going to find you. 

If you are a school leaver or transferring from another university, be aware that you may not receive the same provisions or adjustments that you are used to. In fact, they could be quite different.

Our campus is very large—38 hectares. There are over 55,000 students and staff. It’s virtually a small town with banks, coffee shops, a post office and even an IGA store on campus. It takes a while to get used to finding where everything is and moving about.

Register with Equitable Learning Services prior to the start of term

If you use a wheelchair or have vision impairment, don’t wait until your first day of university to visit the campus. Let us know what assistance you require in getting around. If possible, contact us to organise a campus tour so we can show you the accessibility routes.

Unlike some high schools, lecturers and tutors will not have the course material in an alternative format for you if this is what you use. You will have to find out what texts you need and provide your Equitable Learning Facilitator with details of your course material so it can be converted before term starts.

If you require interpretive services or transcription and captioning, you should register prior to the start of term so that we can organise book services to coincide with your class schedule.

Extensions for assignments are not automatically given to students with disabilities. You need to have registered for educational adjustments and be assessed by your Equitable Learning Facilitator before you can get an extension because of your disability or medical condition.

The best advice we can give you is "don’t leave things until the last minute!" Come and see us as soon as you are enrolled. It really will help make your university life easier.

If you are a new international student, please read our new international students support page on what you need to do before you come to Australia.

Services offered

We can provide you with advice before you enrol at UNSW. Below is a list of some of the more common services available depending on your disability. You will need to be assessed by an Equitable Learning Facilitator to determine if you are eligible to receive specific services and educational adjustments.

Exam adjustments

You may require special support to assist you during your exams. This could include extra time, breaks, access to medicine or food and drink, use of a computer etc. See exam adjustments.

Assistive technology

You may already be familiar with the range of standard software packages that can help you access information on your computer such as Jaws, Zoomtext, Dragon Naturally Speaking etc. We can provide access to the software for you to use on campus as well as software training. See assistive technology.

Alternative formatting

If your course material needs to be electronic, in Braille, in larger font or on larger pages etc, we can assist converting the texts to your requirements. See alternative formatting.

Library assistance

We can arrange for you to receive help retrieving books from shelves, and assistance using library photocopiers.

Academic staff liaison

Your Equitable Learning Facilitator will work with you and your lecturers/tutors to help you manage your study commitments, exams, access to lectures, workload etc. 

Registering for educational adjustments

As soon as you enrol, register for support to ensure your provisions are put in place. You must fill out the educational adjustments registration form and send it with a copy of current documents that provide evidence of your disability. Documents must be medical or provided by a relevant qualified health professional.

Once your medical documents have been received, our office will contact you about an appointment with an Equitable Learning Facilitator.

You can contact us or drop into our office on the Kensington campus when you arrive at UNSW.

Until we have your documents and you have been assessed by an Equitable Learning Facilitator, we will be unable to put educational adjustments in place for you.

Please contact us well in advance if you require alternative formatting or sign interpreters.

What is acceptable documentation?

To ensure you have the appropriate level of support in place, we recommend that your health professional complete a Verification Statement.

If you are providing medical documentation, it must state:

  • the nature and duration of your condition
  • any treatment you are receiving
  • the impact the disability has on your studies and exams
  • any recommendations for adjustments

and must be:

  • less than two years old
  • in English
  • written on letterhead, signed and dated by an appropriate medical practitioner, specialist or professional.

Faxed, photocopied or scanned documents will only be accepted when registering on-line or via email. When coming to an appointment with an Equitable Learning Facilitator, bring the originals.

Documentation can be from your regular GP, medical specialists, psychologists or other qualified health practitioners. If unsure, please contact Equitable Learning Services to check.

If you do not have sufficient documentation, please provide your health professional with a Verification Statement form to complete and return to our office.

Please provide documents submitted to the Board of Studies (if you are a school leaver) or documents used by other educational institutions that may have been used to put educational adjustments in place for you. If possible, provide a copy of the adjustments you received at school or another university.

If your documentation is not sufficient, we will contact you to advise you to submit additional evidence of your disability.

Housing and accommodation

Accommodation is available for students with disabilities, but it is important to apply early—usually in the year prior to enrolment. For more information, visit Accommodation and Housing.

Financial support

UNSW offers a number of scholarships, generally with closing dates in the year prior to enrolment, so you need to get in early. For more information, visit Financial Assistance.


It’s important that you get to and from uni on time for lectures and tutorials Check out your transport options early. Public transport runs regularly to UNSW. The closest train station to UNSW is Central Station in the city. Buses run regularly to and from the university. For more information, please visit UNSW campus travel and location.

Parking on campus

Disabled parking is available on campus. Mobility permit holders may park in any unreserved bay on campus as per the Roads and Maritime Service’s Mobility Parking Scheme. A reserved mobility parking bay may be also be made available for a fee. These bays are marked “RESERVED PERMIT NUMBER XX” and are not available to other permit holders. For more information, see Estate Management – Parking.

UNSW is not responsible for disabled parking stickers. If you require disabled parking, you will need to apply for a parking permit with Roads and Maritime Services.

See also

Equitable Learning/Disability Support for New International Students

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