Independent Living

Living independently at University

In addition to academic support provided by the Disability Team, you may require support or care to live independently. Individuals who have applied to study at the University of St Andrews and require daily personal care or assistance to live independently whilst at St Andrews have various options to consider.

The Disability team encourage prospective students, based in the UK, to contact their local Social Services to discuss the various options available to them. It is likely that your local Social Services will carry out an assessment of care needs; this is usually referred to as a Single-Shared Assessment.

When participating in this Single-Shared Assessment please ensure that it is based on you living independently in a residence without parental support. Once Social Services has conducted the Single-Shared Assessment they will write a report recommending the type of support or care package you require as well as the cost. It is important that the information detailed in the assessment gives an accurate and realistic account of living in a residence.

Organising a support package can take between 6 and 12 months.  Therefore it is vital that you contact your local social services as early as possible to allow funding to be organised and the appropriate support package to be in place from your first day at St Andrews.

If you would like advice on applying for a support package from your local Social Services, please contact the Disability team ( or visit the following websites (please be aware that the University of St Andrews is not responsible for the content of these websites):

It is important to note that funding for care and support from your local Social Services is not guaranteed. Moreover, it is important that you are aware that due to the unique geographical location of the University, there is no way to guarantee access to alternative support services offered by charities and national disability organisations.  If you find that funding is not forthcoming from your local Social Services we would strongly encourage you to contact the Disability team ( immediately.

Please be aware that whilst we would encourage prospective students to organise their support well in advance of their studies commencing at St Andrews should your plans change it should be possible, in consultation with your local Social Services, for your support package to be transferred to another University. 

Employing a personal assistant

Once you receive the funding for your support package it is important that you put in place a suitable individual or team of individuals with the appropriate skills and training to support you to live independently. You have three main options you might wish to consider:

  • You may wish to employ a personal assistant from a private care agency (please contact the Disability Team for a list of agencies that operate in the local area).
  • You may consider employing a friend or family member.
  • There is the option of recruiting a personal assistant from the local community. This can be done by placing an advert in a local newspaper and conducting interviews yourself.

When you employ someone directly you will be wholly responsible for line managing your employee therefore it is important that you consider the following issues: the interview process, employer liability insurance, tax, national insurance, holiday pay, sick pay, expenses etc. It is not possible for the University to provide advice on these matters.  You should seek appropriate legal and accounting advice on the implications of becoming an employer.

In addition to this you will also be responsible for your personal assistant's behaviour in and around the University. You will also have to consider what you will do in the event that your personal assistant becomes ill or takes annual leave. Whilst the University will need to be satisfied that the care package recommended by Social Services is sufficient the University cannot take responsibility for deficiencies in the support package such as the personal assistant becoming ill, or not providing the correct standard of support.  For further advice on all these issues you should contact your local Social Services.

Disclosure check

When employing a personal assistant, whether it is an individual from the local community, a friend or family member, the University will ask that you submit an up to date enhanced Disclosure check to the Disability Team. For further advice on carrying out a Disclosure check please contact the Disability team ( or your local Social Services.

The University owes a duty of care to all its staff and students.  Therefore, when a disclosure check is carried out on your personal assistant, the University will expect to receive a copy.  Your potential employee should be made aware of this.

University accommodation

Alongside organising a suitable support package we would encourage prospective students to carefully consider which Hall of Residence would suit their needs. Residences are communities where students are treated as independent adults responsible for their behaviour and for looking after themselves. The Warden and Assistant Wardens provide out-of-hours contact and support and links to day-time services to ensure that help is available round-the-clock. They are a first point of contact if a health crisis occurs, if a student is in distress or is experiencing difficulties. The Residence Management team is responsible for the operational aspects and service provision e.g. maintenance, catering and health and safety.

The University has a wide range of student accommodation-small and large, catered and self-catered, standard and en-suite. Several residences offer wheelchair accessible or ground floor accessible rooms. If necessary, adjacent accommodation can be made available for Carers or Personal Assistants if you require 24 hour care and support. It is important that you select a hall that meets all your needs. The Disability Team can assist you in making that decision by liaising with Student Accommodation Services to organise a tour of the halls.  We would strongly recommend that you view the residential accommodation during the application process so that any adaptations can be made before you arrive. Viewing the accommodation will also allow you to select the type room that will best suit your needs.

Further guidance and information on the University's residences for Undergraduates and Postgraduates are also available.

Living in residence with a personal assistant

If you are living in a residence with a personal assistant then the personal assistant is subject to the same conditions of let as other residents but since the personal assistant's accommodation will be booked through you, you are responsible for their behaviour. You will also be responsible for ensuring that your personal assistant has a current appropriate Disclosure, as discussed in paragraph 3.

Physical adaptations and equipment

In addition to a personal support package you may also need equipment (such as a shower chair, hoist etc) or physical adaptations made to your accommodation. To organise this we would strongly recommend that you liaise with your local Occupational Therapy service prior to your studies commencing. Making these arrangements well in advance will ensure that your accommodation has all the necessary equipment adaptations put in place. If, following an Occupational Therapy assessment, physical adaptations to your student accommodation are required then please ensure that, in conjunction with the Occupational Service, you inform the Disability Team of this. The Disability Team will liaise with your local Occupational Therapist, Student Accommodation Services and Estates to ensure that the necessary work is carried out. If you would like general advice on how to contact your local Occupational Therapy services then please contact the University's Disability team (

Nursing care

If you require daily or regular nursing care you will need to contact St Andrews NHS Health Centre prior to starting your studies. Please contact the Disability team ( for further contact details. Please note that the University does not offer any nursing care.


In conjunction with organising a support package for University it would also be worthwhile checking if you are claiming all the welfare benefits you are entitled to e.g. Personal Independent Payments, housing benefit etc. For further advice on getting a benefits check done please contact your local Social Services. Alternatively, you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau who should be able to provide you with the appropriate advice. See the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) page on the GOV.UK website for more information. 


The Disability Team is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. They can be contacted by email ( or by telephoning +44 (0)1334 46 2720.

In summary, once you have made an application to study at the University of St Andrews you should do the following:

  • Contact the University's Disability Team for information and advice on applying for daily personal care or assistance to live independently.
  • Contact your local Social Services to arrange for a Single-Shared Assessment to be conducted. Ideally, you should make contact with your local Social Services no later than 6 months prior to entry.
  • If you require physical adaptations made to your future student accommodation you should contact your local Occupational Therapy Service. Ideally, you should make contact with your local Occupational Therapy Service no later than 6 months prior to entry.
  • As well as contacting your local Occupational Therapy Service, it is strongly recommended that you view the student residential accommodation during the application process. A tour of halls can be arranged through the Disability Team. To arrange a visit, please contact the Disability Team no later than 6 months prior to entry.
  • Once funding is agreed with your local Social Services you will need to decide who you are going to employ. Employing a personal assistant or carer can take time. Please plan ahead so that your personal assistant is available and ready for employment when your studies commence.