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The Best Neurodivergent-friendly Universities in the UK Revealed

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According to a recent Student Beans survey nearly 22% of students have been diagnosed with neurodiversity, and just over 28% of students have experienced symptoms of neurodivergence.

When it comes to whether students know if their university provides mental health support, further findings show over two-thirds (68%) of students are positive that their university provides mental health support. In comparison, nearly 8% of students don’t think their university provides mental health support. Nearly a quarter (24%) of students weren’t even sure if their universities offered support.

Shannon O’Dowd, Head of Talent at Student Beans commented:

“It’s only in recent years we are seeing an increase in neurodiversity awareness and it’s now, more than ever, important that neurodiverse students are given access and enough mental health support during their academic journey. 

“This will ensure universities are cultivating an inclusive and fair environment, which can have a positive influence on all students by fostering understanding, empathy, and a culture of inclusiveness.”

To find out the universities that neurodiverse students recommend the most, Student Beans, a top-rated discount app for students, have compiled a list of the best neurodivergent-friendly universities across the UK based on analysing student user comments from The Student Room and University disability policies:

Durham University

According to Durham University, 20% of their student population are disabled, so the university aims to ensure their environments, policies, and practices are as inclusive as possible. 

According to a user on The Student Room:

“A study room for students registered with DUSSD (Durham Uni Service for Students with Disabilities) in the library, a quiet study area which can be pre-booked and contains a range of appropriate equipment and computer software. I think we’re also allowed to take things like laptops on loan, not just from the library but also the disability service.”

Manchester University

Manchester University was ranked in the top 50 universities according to the QS World University Rankings 2024 and is considered one of the leading institutions that provide dedicated, tailored support for students with autism.

The university hosts weekly lunchtime social groups for students with autism, as well as specialist mentoring and the option to have a named disability adviser. With 19% of the unis students being disabled, the disability support on offer has a wide range of help to suit everyone.

Leeds University 

Almost 20% of the student body at Leeds have a disability, and the university has created a policy to ensure they get the support they need.

Support is available for disabled international, postgraduate, apprenticeship and remote students

This includes people with a wide range of different disabilities including neurodevelopmental conditions (like ADHD) and neurological conditions (like stammering, Tourettes), mental health conditions, long-term medical conditions (e.g. fatigue, asthma, diabetes), physical or learning disabilities deaf/hearing impaired, blind/visually impaired, and autism

Sheffield University

One student with autism explained the support they were offered around exams: “Exams in a room of no more than 10 people, 25% extra time, 20 minutes of rest breaks per hour, headphones allowed in exams”.

The day-to-day university support includes a learning support plan that is shared with all lectures that provide a summary of how autism manifests for the individual and the academic and social challenges they may face

Sheffield Hallam University

Sheffield Hallam helps over 4,000 students each year who have a variety of conditions and disabilities. They offer assistive technology to those who require it, and specialist mentors to help keep on track with university life.

According to a user on The Student Room:

“The support they have given over the past three years has been amazing. There are drop-in sessions three/four times a week for disabled students to ask any questions that they might have. They are very accommodating in terms of adjustments, we have a learning contract which is sent to every lecturer you have so that they can see what arrangements are in place for you.”

Birmingham City University.

Birmingham City University tailor support depending on individual needs, which can include sign language interpreters, note-takers and dyslexia mentors to help with any required practical assistance. 

One student noted down a few of the ways the uni supports disability. They boasted that the university offered “additional support from tutors/lecturers, allowances for presentations, longer library loan periods, excused absences, and the potential to defer exams to the summer if necessary with few questions asked”.

The university also holds a Life Skills Summer School in early September for neurodiverse students to try out the university accommodation and will be offered workshops around socialising with new students and how to adapt to their new environment.

Nottingham Trent

Nottingham Trent tailors the support offered according to the student’s needs. They value inclusivity and have support for a range of different disabilities, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, mental health and any physical, sensory, or long-term medical conditions, too.

Based on comments on The Student Room, one student mentions their experience at the university:

“I can have a disabled adapted room in uni accommodation and live there all three years of my course. I chose the accommodation closest to my study areas so that I can basically roll out of bed into class, and the student GP surgery is equally as close. I also have a statement of access which lets everyone who teaches me know that my attendance will not be as good as others’, and also gives me extensions without needing additional evidence each time automatically with no trouble so long as I ask for it before the original deadline.”

Imperial College London

According to a comment on Mumsnet however, Imperial College London is believed to be ‘autism friendly’ and described some of the support available:           

“It has a Disability Advisory service, can help with assessments of study needs and adjustments. They have ASD peer groups, study skills and mental health mentors, as well as a counselling service.”

University College London

The Student Room have praised University College London for its support and wellbeing services. Their support covers a lot of areas from sexual misconduct and violence to identity and personal safety.

They have support across mental health and wellbeing, including counselling services and workshops. The uni also offers tailored support for disabled students, which can include assistive technology, exam adjustments, and higher spec accommodation.

Bournemouth University

Mentioned on The Student Room as offering great support for students with autism, one user commented on how excellent the university was before they were even formally diagnosed.

“I was not diagnosed with autism when I studied at Bournemouth but everyone suspected I had it. The university paid the difference for me to see an autism specialist mentor rather than just a standard mentor — they went above and beyond.”

Essex University

One student from The Student Room raved about the support they were offered as a student:

“I had a disability support worker the entire time at university and she arranged things like making sure I had on-site accommodation which was on the ground floor with disabled access, exam arrangements, etc. I also had a specialist Mental Health mentor in my final year, she was invaluable (she would keep in contact with me during the week and if I wasn’t responding she would ask for a welfare check to be performed)”.

Sussex University

Students on The Student Room have said Sussex University is “really understanding and helpful for mental health difficulties. As long as you tell them about it, they can help you. It’s quite a liberal place in general, and people are smart and clued in about such things and genuinely want to help.”

Winchester University

According to comments from The Student Room, Winchester University covers a lot of different aspects, from mental wellbeing to physical and learning disabilities. From on-the-day bookable appointments to arranging assessments for dyslexia, university support has been praised by students. 

Aberystwyth University

The university has fully accessible rooms and adapted flats and can provide adjustments like flashing fire alarms, vibrating pillows and medical fridges. Offered support includes Acclimatisation Events for new students with autism or similar difficulties to help them transition to uni life.

Cardiff University

Cardiff University emphasises student life and has plenty of support in place for those who need it.

They work with and support students who have a range of disabilities and conditions, including mental health, neurodiversity, physical disabilities and medical conditions. They’re able to make exam adjustments if required, and hold transition events for students with autism and neurodiversity. 

Swansea University

Swansea University have a lot outlined in their disability and student support pages and are inclusive of a wide range of disabilities and conditions.

The university claims to offer an accessible venue for exams/smaller rooms, providing extra time for exams and assignments, feedback in a format that suits you and inclusive library services.

Aberdeen University

Aberdeen University support covers students with sensory or physical impairments, mental health conditions, long-term health conditions ADHD, dyslexia and other specific learning differences, stammering, autism and neurodiversity. The support is available for all students whether undergraduate, postgraduate, full-time, part-time, and online distance learners. 

Strathclyde University Glasgow

Strathclyde University Glasgow has an extensive disability and wellbeing service. They provide support that includes counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Group therapies.

Queen’s University Belfast

The university has support in place to help students with a variety of conditions and disabilities including, but not limited to, neurodiversity, specific learning difficulties, mental health, and physical difficulties.

As well as Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) as most unis offer, Queen’s tailors support to meet individual needs. This type of support covers in-course and university life, so every aspect of the student’s journey is supported.

Ulster University

Ulster University offers a broad range of support for disabled students, including neurodiversity, mental health conditions, and specific learning difficulties.

The university has an ASD social group, facilitated by Student Wellbeing and available for students who are neurodiverse. The group runs sessions to catch up and socialise with people going through similar experiences.

For more information on the best universities for disabilities and neurodivergent, you can find this here:

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