Disability support at St John's

Supporting our students

Whether you’re an undergraduate or a postgraduate, as a student at St John’s you’ll be part of a supportive community of academics, staff and peers who know you personally and can help you to access the support you need to fulfil your potential.

Below you can find information about the various kinds of support you can expect to receive as a disabled student at St John’s, as well as links to further information and relevant contact details.

Academic support


Every student is assigned a Director of Studies, Course Director, Research Supervisor or equivalent, who is responsible for the oversight of their academic work. It is important that they are informed of any support requirements you may have arising from a disability, medical condition or specific learning difficulty, as they can make arrangements on your behalf in relation to teaching/research and examinations.

Examples of the types of support that can be arranged include:

  • ensuring teaching sessions take place in accessible rooms
  • access to computing equipment or assistive technology software
  • a reader/transcriber for lectures/supervisions/exams
  • extended deadlines for course work
  • extra time and/or rest breaks during exams


Pastoral support

Tutor meeting

Every student is assigned a personal Tutor, who is there to help with any issues that affect your time at Cambridge. Your Tutor can liaise on your behalf with other departments within the College and the University, to enable an assessment of your needs and to help coordinate specific support arrangements.

In addition, the College Nurses and College Counsellor (see below) and the Chaplain provide professional and practical pastoral support to members of the College community.

For undergraduates, the JCR Disabilities Officer can offer peer support and advice.

The CUSU Disabled Students' Campaign website and Facebook pages provide access to several online communities, as well as other resources, for disabled students at Cambridge.

Health and welfare support

St John’s employs two nurses and a counsellor, who are dedicated to supporting our students’ health and welfare. Find out more about support services offered by the College Health Centre

The College Nurse, Ruth Dean, is also the College’s Disability Liaison Officer and works closely with the University’s Disability Resource Centre (DRC) to ensure all our students can access the support they need.

The DRC offers information, advice and support to all students who have a disability or a long-term medical condition. The DRC can also provide information and assistance concerning eligibility and claims for benefits, including the Disabled Students Allowance. If you think you may be eligible to receive the DRC’s support, please do not hesitate to contact the DRC directly as soon as possible, or to contact the College Nurse (nurse@joh.cam.ac.uk) for advice and support.


Student accommodation

Four student accommodation rooms have been adapted for wheelchair users and are located on the ground floor. A number of additional accommodation rooms across the College are located on the ground floor and provide step-free access suitable for ambulant disabled non-wheelchair users.

Bedroom and bathroom - D1 Cripps
Bedroom and bathroom - D1 Cripps

The College works closely with the University’s Disability Resource Centre (DRC) to ensure that any accommodation requirements due to a disability are fulfilled. Any costs associated with disability-related accommodation adjustments are met by the College.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to accommodation arrangements, please contact the Accommodation and Bookings Manager (accommodation@joh.ac.uk) who will be happy to advise you.

The College can also assist in the provision of ergonomic equipment and furniture (for example, height-adjustable desks). Discuss any needs with your Tutor in the first instance.

Emergency procedures

The Deputy Head Porter coordinates Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) for individual students, advised by the College Nurse and Academic Administrators. Students who are aware that they might require assistance in an emergency should contact the Deputy Head Porter as soon as possible on arrival in College.


College catering

The cafeteria-style Buttery Dining Room (BDR) serves three meals daily, and is ramped and fully accessible. Students also have the option of dining in Hall six nights per week during term time. Wheelchair users are asked to contact the Catering Office (catering@joh.cam.ac.uk) in advance of dining in Hall, so that staff can ensure a suitable table arrangement is in place.

View catering times

Food allergies and intolerances

Most dietary requirements can be accommodated. For meals in the BDR, information regarding ingredients can be obtained by speaking directly to serving staff. Meals in Hall are booked in advance, and dietary requirements can be specified at the time of booking. If you have a diagnosed life-threatening allergy (anaphylaxis), please contact the College Nurse (nurse@joh.cam.ac.uk) for further information and support.


Kitchen facilities attached to student accommodation vary. Any queries relating to self-catering facilities should be addressed to the Accommodation and Bookings Manager (accommodation@joh.ac.uk).

The College acknowledges the possibility of cross-contamination in shared kitchen facilities; students are advised to discuss any concerns with the College Nurse, the Accommodation and Bookings Manager, or their Tutor.  Some student rooms are equipped with a fridge, and fridges can be provided for other rooms where there is a medical need.