Starting university for most people is a massive change, for a lot of new students, it means moving away from home for the first time. If you have type 1 diabetes, use our information below to help you make sure your diabetes doesn't stop you getting the most out of your time at university.
" I did had a great experience at university. I had fantastic friends who I could vocalise and even joke with about my diabetes. They made me feel normal for discussing how I was feeling, which is hugely important. This made me feel more ease, and although it wasn’t easy, they helped me more than anything else." Jim
Watch our video to hear tips from people with type 1 diabetes on going to university.
There are a few things you'll want to think about before you start university, especially if this is the first time you've lived away from home.
When you apply for university, make sure to tick the disability box on your UCAS application. This means that the university you go to will already have a record that you have type 1 diabetes and that you might need to have extra support.
Moving your care
You should move your GP if you're moving away from home for university. This is because they're your gateway to all the healthcare services in your new area.
Moving your care will mean if you have an emergency you have a team you know to help you. This won't only help you manage your diabetes, but also your general health.
Some people also move into adult care when they go to uni. We have more information on moving into adult care and what this means here.
You can find out more about changing your GP on the NHS website.
Disability Students Allowance
Disability Students Allowance or DSA is a scheme that helps you cover some of the extra costs you might have because of a long-term illness.
You don't need to pay back a DSA and it's added on top of your student loan.
It’s important to tell your university you have diabetes: they might be able to help you make special arrangements in halls, help you with exam requirements and some might have a diabetes support group or society at uni that they can introduce you too.
When you get accepted into your university of choice, get in contact with the disability department. You might have already put this in your UCAS application, but it's always good to make sure they know you have type 1. The Disability Service often help people with any health conditions as well as other mental health conditions and learning difficulties.
They’ll be able to help you with any accommodation requirements that you need like a fridge or to help you choose if catered or un-catered halls would suit you better.
Remember, telling your uni about diabetes doesn’t mean it defines you. It just makes you safer and lets you enjoy everything student life has to offer.
Freshers’ week is the first week of your first year of uni and is your chance to make new friends, join societies and have fun at university.
It can be daunting being in a new place, not knowing anyone, and being lost most of the time. But remember, all the other students are in the same situation.
The whole point of freshers’ week is to get you settled into your new independent life. There’ll be loads of different events put on by the university and places around your area, so you’ll make friends quickly.
Freshers' week often involves a few nights out, so make sure you know how alcohol can affect your diabetes. Having people around to support you and look out for you makes all the difference. As soon as you feel comfortable, tell them you have diabetes and what to do if you have a hypo. They’d much rather be prepared than panic on the dancefloor.
Take advantage of the opportunities on offer to join clubs and meet people with similar interests. And most importantly, enjoy it.
Student life might the first time you’ve had to do the grocery shopping and cook for yourself. If your mum or dad has taken care of your carb counting until now, it’s natural to be anxious. It takes time to learn how to keep your sugar levels under control.
Tips for eating well and keeping track of your carbs:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Mix pasta, potatoes and bread with fruit and veg and sources of protein like dairy.
- Check the labels – most food packaging tells you how many carbs are inside (carry a carb counting guide or bookmark a web page just in case).
- Shop online – set up a regular delivery for your basics and start to get into a routine you know works for you.
- Use our recipes or your tried and tested cookbooks.
- If you’re eating out, a quick online search can tell you roughly how many carbs are in a dish.
Read our full list of tips about eating at university and doing it on a budget.
If you'd like more support preparing for university, we created a toolkit with JDRF that can help you throughout your time at uni.