Diabetes type 1

University and work with diabetes

Many of the experiences of young diabetic people at university are covered in other parts of this site and highlight issues relating to diabetes control in specific situations rather than life at university per se. (See for instance' 'Diet and diabetes', 'Hypos', 'Drinking and alcohol', 'Information about diabetes' and 'Travelling abroad'.) Sixth form students about to go to university said they had asked their diabetic team lots of questions about how to manage diabetes at university. 

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The other main issue raised by many young people we talked to was that for the first time in their lives they are solely responsible for managing their diabetes as they live on their own in student accommodation, away from everyday practical family support. At university they have to shop for themselves, decide when and what to eat, and make decisions about drinking alcohol and going out with friends. 

Initially, most students said they found it difficult to control their diabetes because their life style changed from a more set routine to a less predictable pattern of living in which mealtimes, going to bed, and activity levels are all increasingly variable. Many said that they found the drinking culture at university became more central to their social lives than it had been when they lived at home (see also 'Highs', 'Drinking and alcohol' and 'Diet and diabetes').

Some young people when going to university had specific concerns regarding diabetes control. One young woman found the prospect of living away from home was stressful because she has had several experiences of early morning diabetes coma in the past.

Going out to work
Young people who have recently changed from a student to a working life said that they noticed their diabetes is easier to control because they have a more set daily routine.

Young people who are working full-time, or sixth form students working at weekends and during holidays, indicated that it is important that people you work with should know you are diabetic and that it helps if various co-workers can recognise the 'warning signals' of a hypo. Some had talked to the health and safety officer at work about their diabetes.

Those at work said that employers need to be aware that you need to eat at certain times. Most have found that employers are very accommodating. One young woman however, has found significant differences in the attitude of employers, school teachers and university tutors. Young people stressed the fact that as a diabetic and a worker you have specific rights. See our resources section for links to further information.

Last reviewed November 2014.

Last updated April 2012.

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