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Cuts to funding were made after applications for ADHD and Autism diagnoses were at an “unsustainable level”Katie Kasperson for Varsity

An open letter has been sent to Cambridge University’s head of wellbeing following the University’s decision to cut funding for ADHD and autism diagnoses.

Previously, students could access funding for diagnoses through the Crane’s Fund, but this was scrapped last month as applications for the grant stand at an “unsustainable level”.

The open letter has accused Cambridge of cutting off “vulnerable students” from the support they need. The petition is addressed to Bhaskar Vira, pro-vice-chancellor for education, and Natalie Acton, Head of Student Wellbeing.

It also demands “alternative financial provisions for students who cannot access diagnosis or medication through other routes” following the cuts.

The campaign alleges that the changes were “poorly communicated” with students originally only having five days to apply for funding for a diagnosis, before the deadline for applications was extended to the end of March.

The letter also demanded “a public and formal recognition of the failure to communicate” the changes to students.

ADHD diagnoses for Cambridge students have previously caused controversy after a GP at Newnham Walk surgery claimed students were “faking” ADHD to get extra time in exams.

The open letter has called for the University “to provide mitigations for all students in exams and assessment”.

Earlier this year, Varsity found that payouts from the Crane’s fund had increased by 853% between the academic years 2018/19 and 2022/23. Last year, the fund granted £609,788 to students.

The campaign is supported by Caredig Ap Tomos, the Student Union’s Access, Education & Participation Officer, who told Varsity: “While the university’s decision to change the eligibility on the Crane Fund to no longer include private diagnoses related to autism and ADHD is understandable, this has fully highlighted that the support for students with these conditions is not where it needs to be.”

“With a national shortage of medication for ADHD and decade-long waiting times for a diagnosis with some NHS trusts there is more need than ever for the university to do what it can to ensure students aren’t left behind,” he said.

“I would encourage any student who feels students with ADHD or autism deserve an equal playing field to their neurotypical peers to sign the open letter,” he added.

A University spokesperson told Varsity: “There has been a thorough consultation with internal stakeholders on the future of the Crane’s Fund. Eligibility criteria was changed to ensure the Fund continued to be available to those most in need of medical support, as was set out in the original terms of the bequest.”

“The University has a responsibility to ensure the Fund is properly managed. Student representatives were made aware that the changes were likely to be made around mid-March, but in the light of concerns the deadline for applications was extended to 1st April,” they said.

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