Lack of support in universities drives deaf students to consider leaving degrees Undergraduates feel they are wasting £9,250-a-year tuition fees amid long waits for help.
Annie Cuckson, 23, says her university's failure to support her deafness has resulted in her feeling anxious Annie Cuckson, 23, says her university's failure to support her deafness has resulted in her feeling anxious. A chronic shortage of vital support in universities is driving deaf students to consider abandoning their degrees.
Waits of up to a year for assistance such as interpreters, specialist tutors and note-taking in lectures are leaving hundreds of undergraduates feeling ostracised, stressed and as though they are wasting their fees of up to £9,250 a year. A poll, carried out by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS), suggests nearly half of those who needed help at university were still waiting for support when their degree began. Of those, nearly three in five (59 per cent) experienced delays of more than two months for the support to be in place – and more than a quarter (28 per cent) waited six months or more, the research finds.
One student, who was entitled to a specialist note-taker, was left without support for her entire first year which made it difficult for her to revise for exams. “I felt let down and slightly lost,” she says. Habiba Bernier, an Essex university student who is profoundly deaf, added: “I was turning up to lectures half understanding what was being said, which made me feel I didn’t belong there.” She was only found a specialist note-taker when she threatened to leave the university after her first year. Sophia Watkins, 22, who is studying at Sheffield Hallam University, also had to wait for months after starting her course for interpreters to be sorted.
She considered dropping out amid a lack of support. “Without the support I need, I feel depressed, worried, stressed and struggle to follow criteria to achieve high marks.”