Academic Pressure and Stress at University

Although going to university to study a course you are passionate about is an exciting challenge, many students sometimes find it hard to keep on top of their workload and stick to deadlines. Even if you enjoy your course, you may still feel stressed and worried about the academic pressure that comes with studying at a higher level. This may be especially true as you enter the final years of your degree. These feelings are common, but it’s good to be aware of the signs that you are struggling, and to know where you can go for help.

For blind and partially sighted students, there are extra challenges that can come with studying at university. You may find completing work takes you longer than expected due to your vision impairment or that the technology you are using is not meeting your access needs. Additionally, you may feel stressed about your academic progress if you do not have the support in place that you expected, or if you are struggling to get your learning materials in your preferred accessible format.

The good news is, most problems have a solution and there are many ways for you to get support. It’s important to get help as soon as possible to enable you to succeed with your course and to keep negative feelings at bay.

Support from your university

Your university should be the first point of contact if you are having difficulties directly related to your studies. All universities will offer slightly different types of support and you can usually find out more via your university’s website. Here are some of the people that will be there to support you if you’re having difficulties:

  • Disability Advisors – as a blind or partially sighted student you will probably be in contact with a disability advisor at your university. Your advisor will be able to help you with many aspects of your academic study such as ensuring you receive your learning materials in accessible formats, supporting applications for extensions and deferrals if you need them, exam arrangements and putting in place any other support that you need. Find out more about Disability Advisers and how they can support you.
  • Course Teams –  if you are not sure if you’ve picked the right subject or modules, your course team will be able to offer you advice. Your course team may be made up of lecturers, tutors and course administrators.


Support from Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)

As a blind or partially sighted student, It’s a good idea to apply for DSA. Having comprehensive support in place will make it easier for you to succeed with your studies.

If you are already in receipt of DSA and unexpected difficulties with your course are affecting your mental health, DSA may be able to help by changing or adjusting the support they have awarded to better suit your needs.

Your disability advisor can help you with applying for or requesting changes to your DSA. It’s also important to remember that DSA can provide additional specialist help for students with mental health conditions. Check out our guide to Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) to find out more.

Need support with accessing your studies?

The Student Support Service offers free advice and guidance to blind and partially sighted students about any issue linked to your studies.

Our education webpages have a wide range of resources about university study; such as applying for DSA, revision tips and information about accessible technology.

You can read our Student stories which share the experiences of blind and partially sighted students on their education journeys. Many of the stories include tips about how to overcome challenges at university. Check them out here!

We also have our Student Support Community on Facebook, a space for students to share advice and information, ask questions, and connect with those going through similar situations in a positive, supportive environment. Join the group here!

If you have any questions or would like support in accessing your studies, please reach out to us by visiting our Student Support Service homepage.

I’m currently experiencing a mental health crisis. What should I do?

If your life may be at risk or you do not think you can keep yourself or someone else safe from harm, call 999. A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical one. You will not be wasting anyone’s time.

If you think you need urgent mental health support or advice, please contact your local NHS urgent mental health helpline. You can find your local service via the following link:

Find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline in England

Similar services are also available in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, you can find out about support in your area by calling 111.

If you would like to talk to someone at any time of day or night about anything you are struggling with, you can call the Samaritans listening service on 116123.

If you or a young person you know are not coping with life, you can call Papyrus’ HOPELINK phoneline for suicide prevention advice on 0800 068 4141, between 9am and 12pm, or text 07860 039 9637.

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