Cambridge University stops funding for ADHD and Autism diagnoses

The Crane Fund will no longer offer financial support for diagnosing Autism and ADHD

Cambridge University students who suspect they are neurodivergent are no longer able to request funding to get a private diagnosis or ADHD medication.

The university has updated the Crane Fund page on the website to specify that there will no longer be financial support for students seeking a diagnosis for either of these conditions.

The Crane Fund currently offers support to disabled students, with the university originally announcing the deadline for funding applications as Sunday 17th March 2024. The deadline was then extended to Monday 1st April, and applications for ADHD and Autism diagnoses have now not been accepted for a month.

The Crane fund has also stopped offering financial support for private medication for ADHD.

This means that there is no longer any route for obtaining ADHD medication with university support, and students may have to go through NHS waiting lists of up to 10 years according to an open letter to the University of Cambridge regarding the changes to the Crane Fund.

The open letter, addressed to Bhaskar Vira (pro-vice-chancellor for education) and Natalie Acton (Head of Student Wellbeing), is backed by members of the Students’ Union as well as neurodivergent and neurotypical students across the university.

A university spokesperson told The Tab Cambridge that there was “a thorough internal consultation over the Crane Fund which included student representatives”, adding that the university has “significantly increased investment in mental wellbeing services in recent years”.

They also added “any student with a positive screening for ADHD or Autism can receive the same educational adjustments they would qualify for with a clinical diagnosis”. The Students’ Union itself has not commented or released a statement.

Many students within college JCRs have taken responsibility for communicating the changes to the student body, which the open letter states is a “failure”, which is “primarily with timely and sensitive communication”.

The website was the only form of notification, and students were originally given only five days to apply, which was then extended due to backlash.

The University of Cambridge highlighted the changes at the top of the page for the Crane Fund

The changes are likely due to the funding being unsustainable and expensive, as private autism diagnoses can cost up to £2,000 according to the open letter.

The university has been discreet about the changes, choosing to update the website rather than announce the news which has sparked backlash from students, support staff and college JCR committees.

According to Varsity, the open letter written in response doesn’t demand the Crane Fund to re-open its support for ADHD and Autism diagnoses and ADHD medication, rather stipulating demands addressing the university’s handling of the announcement.

These included “a public and formal recognition of the failure to communicate sensitively and actively to students”,  “alternative financial provisions for students who cannot access diagnosis or medication” and “mitigations for all students in exams and assessments who are showing signs of autism and ADHD”.

Additionally, the open letter states that there should be “increased financial backing for the ADRC [Academic Disability Resource Centre] to provide screening, counselling and support documents to students”. The ADRC declined to comment.

The letter has been signed by members of the ADHD Society, College JCRs and academic representatives.

The open letter closed on Sunday 12th May.

The Academic Disability Resource Centre (ADRC) was contacted for comment.

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