The STAART project: Support Through *AccessAbility Retention and Transition

By Dr Melanie Thorley, FACE Executive Member

The STAART project provides support for disabled and diverse students who have accepted a place to study with us. STAART is part of the University’s *AccessAbility project, which provides information and guidance to disabled, dyslexic and diverse students considering a university education. Whilst the project has been supporting disabled and diverse students since 2007, this is the first time we have adopted a blended approach, combining our outreach and inreach under one umbrella support mechanism. Our work complements the disability and dyslexia team (wellbeing@gre.ac.uk) who continue to provide academic support. Our ambassadors are mostly concerned with supporting our STAARTers (students enrolled in the project) by providing peer support.
 
Our *AccessAbility ambassadors, current University of Greenwich students or graduates with their own disability or diversity, provide support and first-hand experience of university life. As part of the project, our ambassadors also work with students in local schools and colleges, and we can offer STAART support to local disabled and dyslexic students from Year 11 onwards.

Disability and diversity includes the following:

  • A mental health condition such as anxiety or depression.
  • A specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia.
  • A developmental disorder such as autism or ADHD/AD.
  • A progressive medical condition such as multiple sclerosis, cancer or HIV.
  • A sensory impairment which could affect the ability to see or hear.
  • A long-term health condition such as epilepsy or rheumatism.

Why do we offer support to disabled and diverse students?
University life can be challenging. Many new students are moving from a structured environment at home or at work, school or college to a situation where they will need to balance independent study with their other commitments and social lives. For disabled and diverse students, these challenges can be more extensive, so good preparation and organisation is important. With STAART, we support students through this transition.
 
What support is available?
There are several ways to access STAART support. Students can:

  • Follow our Facebook or Twitter accounts for news and information or to talk to us and fellow students.
  • Attend a transition day before the start of term for a tour of the campus and library, and to meet our *AccessAbility Ambassadors.
  • Book a place at one of our Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning workshop or one-to-one sessions, for study tips, advice and the opportunity to meet other new students and the *AccessAbility Ambassadors.
  • Join our private Facebook groups for peer-to-peer support.

How to join:
Disabled and diverse students at the University of Greenwich, students who are intending to study at Greenwich in the future and local disabled and diverse students (year 11 onwards) can join the project via the following link:
https://greenwich.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/staart-2016

Alternatively, if you would like more information about disability and dyslexia and higher education, and what our *AccessAbility Ambassadors and myself are doing, you can follow us on the following:

Facebook:   University of Greenwich – STAART
Twitter:       @GRE_STAART

There is currently no end date as this is a rolling project and students can join at any time. If you have any questions, or would like clarification on STAART, please contact the project lead:
 
Dr Melanie Thorley
M.Thorley@gre.ac.uk
 
Please share with others who might be interested in the Project. Thank you for reading.

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