Universities and Higher Education

Information and advice for a parent or carer of a young adult living with allergy.

Parent of an 18 to 25 year old

What duty of care do universities have for young people living with allergy?

Universities have a general duty of care at common law (Health and Safety at Work Act 1974), to act reasonably to protect the health, safety and welfare of its student.  This means a university needs to make sure that it has effective and robust systems, policies and procedures in place for supporting and managing students, and that training and awareness-raising is provided for staff. Generally, as a minimum, a university should offer a basic welfare service to students to provide confidential guidance and support on health and disability as it may affect their academic studies and progression (AMOSSHE).

What this looks like will vary across institutions. Therefore, it’s important to research and visit universities before enrolling, and important to speak with student support services, to find out what they have in place for students living with allergies.

Before enrolling at university or college

Before enrolling, it’s beneficial to attend university open days and college visits with your young person. If they’re transitioning from school to university or college, you can approach their current school’s guidance/pupil support or welfare team to see if they can support.

Be sure to also visit the college or university website to see if there is any information on attending with allergies. Often there will be guidance on who to contact.

Support offered at university or college

The support offered across university and college sites can vary from institution to institution. For this reason, it’s important to speak with support staff, personal/guidance tutors or student support services, to find out what practices, guidance and policies they have available for those who are living with allergies. Usually this can be accessed through the student support services, welfare and guidance officers, disability support or through a link lecturer.

Many university or colleges have some level of allergy awareness and may offer initiatives, such as:

  • Buddy or mentor schemes to find and support others with allergies.
  • Assistance in finding suitable accommodation. They may even offer Hall mentors who can be there for your young person.
  • Counselling and wellbeing services.

Examples of support offered:

What can I do, as a parent, to prepare my young person for student life away from home?

Support them to:

  • Educate themselves about their allergies and understand their diagnosis (food allergy, asthma, eczema, hay fever, anaphylaxis).
  • Know their triggers and learn how to keep safe.
  • Take ownership of their allergies – they should understand how to recognise and treat allergic reactions themselves and be able to educate their friends and family in what to do.
  • Take their allergy medication regularly, as prescribed, this is an essential part of managing their allergies.
  • Encourage them to be responsible for organising their own doctor appointments and requesting repeat prescriptions.
  • Be aware of any changes or worsening of their condition, and be confident and know when to seek help.
  • When you visit the college/university campus, encourage them to find out where the medical services and local pharmacies are located.

This will all help to minimise the impact of allergy on their life and keep them safe and healthy.

The Allergy House

The Allergy House

Visit our Allergy House to find out how to manage allergens around the home

Being prepared is key

Your young person’s allergies may become worse during the transition to university and college. This can be due to a number of things including stress, living conditions, adapting to living away from home etc.

Encourage your young person to think and plan ahead, and not leave anything to chance. This includes going on placements, residentials or other activities, as well as the usual social activities.

Medical alert jewellery or bands with medical information engraved onto them detailing the wearers allergies can be useful, but these need to be purchased. Alternatives which do not require an expense include carrying a card stating their allergy,  their allergy management plan (including asthma management plan if relevant) with their rescue medication. Remind your young person often that they should carry their rescue medications and devices with them at all times:

  • A strip of antihistamines can be carried in a wallet or purse
  • Adrenaline auto-injectors and inhalers can be carried in a pocket, bag or other accessory ,as long as it is with the allergic individual.

Visit our ‘Moving Out and Shared Living Space’ for parents of 18-25 year olds, for support on helping your young person with allergens around the house. You could also direct them to our Allergy House for more tips and advice on managing allergens around the home.


A detailed section on supporting your young person to independently manage their healthcare can be found under the GP and Healthcare section of Parent Pathways for parents of 18-25 year olds.

In addition, ahead of starting university, you should begin encouraging your young person to assume responsibility for:

  • Booking doctor’s appointments and ordering and picking up their prescriptions in good time.
  • Setting reminders on their phones and subscribing to expiry alerts for adrenaline auto-injectors.
  • Agree an allergy management plan/asthma action plan with their healthcare professional to enable better management of their allergies.

It is important to make sure your young person registers with a GP local to their university or college, to maintain continuity of healthcare. This is essential, so they can get repeat prescriptions and book essential.

Support for health concerns, including sexual health, can be accessed through the student union or welfare support. Services can include counselling, access to free condoms (including latex free), family planning, drug testing kits and anti-spiking resources.

GP and Healthcare

GP and Healthcare

Tips from our Parent Pathways hub, for parents of 18-25 year olds who are going to be responsible for their own medical care for the first time.

Living with food allergies

A detailed section on supporting your young person to independently manage their food allergies in shared accommodation can be found under the Moving Out and Shared Living Space section of Parent Pathways for parents of 18-25 year olds.

If your young person lives with food allergy, you can share these tips to help them stay safe at university:

  • They should be prepared to carry wipes and clean down surfaces, to reduce the risk of cross contamination, before eating or studying around campus.
  • Encourage your young person to talk to their friends and housemates, to make them aware of their allergies and how to spot an allergic reaction. Most people will already know someone with an allergy and be supportive. However occasionally, house mates are just not able to understand the seriousness of the allergy and it may be wise to speak with the university or college welfare officer to seek alternative accommodation.
  • When eating out, if it is a planned occasion, suggest they look at online menus in advance if available.
  • They can use social media to find recommendations for suitable places to eat out with allergies.

Blog ‘Living with allergies at university’

Want to know what student life is really like at the University of Nottingham? Their team of student bloggers tell you all you need to know about the University, the city of Nottingham and a whole lot more.

Visit blog

Additional Resources

Anaphylaxis and Severe Allergic Reactions

Anaphylaxis and Severe Allergic Reactions

Anaphylaxis is a life threatening severe allergic reaction. It is a medical emergency, and requires immediate treatment. A severe allergic reaction can cause an anaphylactic shock and must be treated with an Adrenaline Auto Injector (AAI).

At home

At home

Information and resources on managing allergens around the home.

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Asthma Poster for Young People

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Asthma is a common condition which affects the lungs and having asthma makes you more likely to have difficulty breathing or asthma attacks when you come into contact with your trigger irritant or allergen.

Drinking, smoking and drugs

Drinking, smoking and drugs

Now that you're child has flown the nest and has a new sense of freedom, it's the perfect opportunity to remind them that smart and safe choices will still need to be made when out and about.

Allergy Alerts

Allergy Alerts

Sometimes foods have to be withdrawn or recalled if there is a risk to consumers. We are informed by the Food Standards Agency and we alert the public via our website, social media and by sending allergy alert emails to those who have requested them from us.

Sanofi UK has provided a financial contribution to the production of this digital destination but has had no editorial input into the design, content or other outputs.

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