Academic Mentoring for students who are identified via DSA as requiring help with their studies.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring aims to provide support which facilitates success. Mentoring helps student to focus on their strengths, utilising them in a way that enables them to address any issues that they may struggle with.

Mentors can help students to develop and maintain more realistic study patterns, enhancing their ability to overcome barriers to success, and thereby providing them with a more equal chance of achieving academic and personal goals.

They can provide support with timetabling, goal-setting, and managing expectations about appropriate levels of study. Our Mentors can utilise expertise in helping people with a range of life issues. We have experience of working within Mental Health Services, addressing issues regarding medication and a range of diagnoses.

Mentoring is not…

…the same as Study Skills Tuition, which some students with specific learning difficulties (such as dyslexia and dyspraxia) may require. However, a mentor can help students develop more effective study strategies if they are struggling with organisation, motivation, time management, and staying focussed on their work.

…the same as counselling, the main difference being that the focus of mentoring sessions can be practical and forward looking.
Mentors can also work with you on a more flexible basis than a counsellor might normally be able to. However, all of the mentors have a professional, psychological or other related background, and their therapeutic training and skills will inform the type of work that they do with you.

…a substitute for support from statutory services. Your mentor (and/or Disability Advisor) will be able to advise on National Health Service (NHS) referral pathways and can, with your permission, act as a point of contact and liaise with statutory services (e.g. College Doctors, Community Mental Health Teams, Eating Disorder and other specialist services) in order to ensure that you receive a comprehensive and coordinated package of support.

Am I eligible for mentoring?

Many students are not aware that their difficulties may constitute a ‘disability’ which would make them eligible for support. The Equality Act (2010) replaced the Disability Discrimination Act (2005) in providing protection and legal rights for disabled people. It uses the following definition of disability:

“The Act defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term (i.e. has lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months) adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”

Mentors can work with students with a range of mental health diagnoses, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. Students with chronic fatigue syndrome/M.E. or chronic health conditions which affect their studies can also benefit from mentoring.

Furthermore, the mentors can work with some students diagnosed with attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder and severe dyspraxia if they are particularly struggling with organisation and staying focused on their work. Our Mentors are experienced professionals and understand the issues of stigma attached to having such diagnoses.

Who arranges mentoring?

The Counselling and Disability Advisory Services are part of the ‘Student Welfare and Support Services’, and collaborate to deliver the specialist mentoring services.  Mentoring is usually paid for via the ‘non-medical helper’ (NMH) component of the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). DSA is a non-means tested and non-repayable source of funding administered by your funding body (e.g. Student Finance England/Wales, the Student Awards Agency for Scotland, the Northern Ireland Educational and Library Boards, and Research Councils UK).

Non-UK students are not eligible for the DSA, but there is often funding provision to cover the costs of their disability-related support.
You can follow this link to find your nearest Access Centre,

How can I access the service?

The first step to accessing mentoring support is usually to register with the Disability Advisory Service by completing a ‘Disclosure and Study Support form’ that is available through your Student Support/welfare Department.
You will then need to complete an application for DSA which can be accessed via the following link.

You will need to provide a Doctor’s letter confirming the nature of your difficulties (including any diagnosis), the length of time over which you have had difficulties, and any treatment/support/interventions you are currently receiving.

About the Mentor      Case study 1      Case study 2      Case study 3      Case study 4