University students who had been referred over a three year period from a special needs office because of putative learning disabilities were compared to randomly selected cohorts. There was no evidence of learning disabilities. Standardized scores for intelligence memory and educational
achievement were all within the average range for both groups. Although there was no evidence of significant psychopathology in either group, the special needs group was significantly more immature, dependent, attention seeking and emotionally sensitive than the reference group. Only four
of these variables were required to classify accurately 94% of all of the students (canonical correlation = 0.82). The results indicated that standardized norm-referenced assessment is essential to determine the actual etiologies for university students who request “special needs”
because of putative learning disabilities. Implications of strategies for counselling these students are discussed.