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What it’s like studying at university with chronic illnesses?

By Niamh Burns

Thursday 23 February 2017 Student Journalists

University can be challenging and stressful as it is, but how difficult can it be if you suffer from a chronic illness? Revising for exams, completing assignments and maintaining a social life at university whilst battling an illness can take a massive toll on a person.

Consider Kristian Ross, a Journalism and English student at Ulster University. Kristian not only suffers from Diabetes but has recently been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease within the last year at university. Prior to starting his degree, he had no idea how much his illnesses could affect his studies, but praises his university for offering support.

"I knew starting university suffering from Diabetes, and later Crohn's, wasn't going to be easy. I didn't want it to stop me from getting a degree. However, I didn't realise how much it would affect my studies, especially around exam time."

"Ulster University have been very supportive and understanding of my illnesses. I get extra help during exam time such as having more time to complete exams and take them in smaller classrooms under more supervision, as opposed to being in a big exam hall."

"In terms of balancing a social life at university whilst suffering from Diabetes and Crohn's, it isn't easy. I get tired easily so I can't stay up too late partying. I also need to be aware of my sugar levels when consuming alcohol, so I can't get too carried away."

"On a daily basis, I can feel quite lethargic and low in energy, so making early morning lectures is always a struggle. But if I inject properly and have a good breakfast in the mornings, I'm usually good to go."

"I know if any of my ailments flare up, I'm able to get extensions on essays if I really need them. Both the Students Union, Journalism and English departments have been incredibly supportive over the last two years of my studies."

If you're a student at university suffering from a chronic illness, do not hesitate to contact your university and student's union to seek support. There are all kinds of support on offer to make your university life easier. Illnesses are difficult and challenging but it should never stop you from reaching your goals.



Niamh Burns

Hi, I’m Niamh. I am a recent English Literature graduate from Ulster University, now studying an NCTJ Professional Journalism course at North West Regional College in Derry, Northern Ireland. I have always wanted to become a journalist and have spent the last few years interning at newspapers and magazines throughout Northern Ireland. I have a massive interest in currents affairs, politics and social justice. I’m really interested in student perspective, politics and activism, mainly in feminism and gender equality. I believe it is really important for young people and students to get involved in current affairs and politics, it is crucial for us to have a good platform in order to express ourselves.