[Skip navigation]

DEMOS Project

Online Materials for Staff Disability Awareness
[Resources] : Student Interviews


Please note : This student wishes to remain anonymous. Therefore where ever possible we have removed the names of any persons involved, as well as details of the university and the course. These have been replaced and can be seen between brackets.

Name :
Year of study :
Level of study :
UCAS Disability code :
9 - disability not listed above


Can you tell me about the process of applying to university how did it work?

When I met the tutor before I came on the course I asked him if I'd be OK and he said yes we think you will be OK on the course and do fine. We have had women on the course before who have had difficulties in the past and they have been fine. Because I came to (name of university) 5 years ago then I dropped out because I was traumatised.

I did an Access Course and the tutor there was brilliant. He told us all that because we were mature students and single parents that we would shame some of the other students because of our budgeting skills and things like looking after our children and still being able to study.

[Back to top]

On the course

Do you have particular difficulties in certain teaching situations?

Yes, I did have to walk out of a lecture but the lecturer didn't say anything. I came back in when I'd calmed down. I can cope with it anyway nowadays because I have learnt breathing techniques and I can get through the panic. But I do have to sit like near the door to be sure in case and I used to come in late so I know that I can sit near the door and make sure that I'm near the door. People don't realise what it feels like, the panic. I know sometimes it gets too much and its like when I have let things take over, like if I've not eaten properly that can them make things worse. But I got all these problems and I have to study and it's just mad a nightmare people don't realise.

What are the other students' attitudes towards you? Have you disclosed to them?

Some of the other students have been great and have given me a lot of help. It's been a total nightmare, like I got a computer but then had loads of problems with it, so one of the other students has been really helpful helping me type up things and typing things up for me. But I did have a panic attack and I nearly collapsed, and I actually asked one of the other students for help and she just ignored me totally blanked me. But she wouldn't even look at me she just completely ignored me. In the end I got a drink, a cup of tea and managed to calm down but I was having a full panic attack.

But like before when I came on the course last time I didn't make any friends, I tended to stay away from the others I found it very difficult. I know that now and don't want to do that again. I'm really determined, I try to think about it in an adult way and try to not let it get me down. If I fail this time I just don't know what I'd do it would really be bad.

I have always said that I don't want to be different, I don't want to be different from the other students I don't want to stand out. So I don't want to sit my exams in a different room because that's different to everyone else. I can do exams and I can sit there and cope with it, but I have to cope with my panic attacks at the same time, I have learnt to breath and that.

[Back to top]


Can you me about any additional support that you get for assessments?

I handed an essay in and it's just been horrendous it really has. I went to see the tutor and he just basically said don't let everyone think you are a lame duck But I didn't know what that meant. It was only when I went to my counsellor and talked about it. They told me what it meant and said there's no way they should have said that to you. What they don't realise is the trauma that I've been through. You see I was abused at school and I have a real problem with authority figures. I mean I don't like rooms even. And I see people here like that. I think they just think you are scum, you are a lower class, the second class and they look down on you. It's hard to explain, but because of what happened at school and I'm not believed about that that I have real problems speaking to people in authority. I try to be adult about it but it's hard. And because I have this problem with rooms sometimes I have to really think before even knocking on the door.

[Back to top]

Career Aspirations

What are your feelings about employers and that kind of issue? Do you think, 'I have to get this degree and then I can prove to them ...' are there issues around the panic attacks?

Because I know I have not fully recovered, this was like fitting in and I thought if I can get a degree it will give me more confidence because I will have done it then, and I can do it, and you do seem to get a bit more respect. I think it depends on who they are, really. I think we have moved on a lot haven't we? I know with disabilities and things like that, if you get in with a good company they won't treat you unfairly. They are quite good with disability. I'd like to work full-time but I'm not sure if I'm ready because it's confidence with me. I do know a single parent who is very clever and has got qualifications and she won't do certain jobs because she's scared, so that's made me feel a little bit better. It's because I am not good with forms. I think it's just because I failed it years ago, it's part of me now and I feel I want to achieve this and to build up my self-esteem. And I'm hoping that it will get me a job.

The other thing, as well, I always wanted to teach but you've got to have a degree to teach. Then you've got to do the PGCEs at some point and you've got to have your maths. I was doing maths before I came here. It was only recently that a few people have said, 'Why don't you join the police?' - because of what's happened to me. And a policewoman as well said to me, 'Why be a special?' Because I was going to join the specials. She said, 'Why do that when you would make a real good policewoman?' That was before I suffered the second trauma. To be honest with you, I am still the earliest ... you see it's a process that you have to go through and I'm only just coming through the ending of the process. This is just fitting in with life and let's face it you do get paid to come to university and it is pretty decent. I found it quite a good ... I've had quite a good standard of living on what you get. That's why I want to pass - I don't want to go back on income support!

[Back to top]

Three tips for lecturers

What could the university do better? What things should they have in place and so on?

I think when I first got interviewed by (name of tutor), I think I should have been directed a little bit more, maybe, to here. I don't think you have to have a disability to just come here anyway. It was too late by the time I did get here, there were no appointments left - it was fully booked. It did help coming here because (name of study skills tutor) helped me with the things like and essay title. On the exam it took me about twenty minutes to read that.

To interpret what you had to do?

Yes. So I must have some kind of disability there. I know when my friend said about being dyslexic, but I didn't know what it meant. I didn't even know how to find out. I wish I'd known what's wrong with me so I can work on it myself.

So that referral through at an early stage to the Learning Support Unit ...

Yes, that would have been good, that would have been better - even if I could have phoned them up and arranged it there and then and then I would have got my foot in the door from the beginning. I think you can only come here every so often anyway.

Is there anything else in the university, or anything that's happened that could have been improved?

I think maybe it would be a good idea for these mentors, maybe if they could present themselves and maybe get a group of people with disabilities together and do a little group work with them. I've obviously struggled, but I do think about other students who are going to start this September and I do think, 'I hope they stick with it.' It's very sort of impersonal isn't it when you are at university and you are on your own? When you go out into the world you are out there on your own and you have to learn how to push yourself forward. I suppose it's good in a way, because when you are working you are on your own, you can't have someone to mother you. I think that's what I would have liked but it wouldn't have been good anyway.

I think about it like that step from primary to secondary school. Suddenly it's a huge place, then you moved back to FE college and it's quite small again and then it's off to a really big university again.

It is frightening and I think there is support there but I don't know who could reach out to them. Maybe other students who have been through it. It's like, say, this year so many women have applied and they have suffered domestic violence or something, why can't they get hold of me or someone else and get them to talk to those people. It's like, for instance, I was at my friend's the other day and her young lad came in, who I've seen working, full of confidence, and he was a wreck because he had suffered a trauma and it completely changed him. I have talked to him about my trauma and how I had to deal with it and it really helped him. I think that's important as well.

I know for me that when I see people in wheelchairs, how can I be negative when I see them struggling, because they do struggle and I think, 'How do they do it?' Or when someone's blind I think they have to have someone around to guide them don't they. I suppose more help like that. Let's face it, disability covers a lot of things, doesn't it. If there are women with eating disorders maybe they should put ... there are associations like the Eating Disorder Association and maybe they should advertise that. I suppose they are trying because it's changed from when I was here ... but I think they should be more sympathetic. My social worker said to me, the way I was dealt with I was demoralised and degraded and I do believe that, because that's how I was feeling and I think they should be more careful. Let's face it, we are supposed to be moving on now and they are not supposed to look down on us as if we are second class. I've had that all my life, you know. I don't really know what else to say. I've just tried to be honest.

[Back to top]

[Previous] | Previous || Table of Contents || Next | [Next]