An animal lover says he cannot pursue his dream career because he cannot take his lifeline assistance dog with him to university.

Michael Colville has autism and mental health problems which mean he struggles to leave the house without his one-year-old border collie Holly.

Mr Colville is keen to pursue a career in animal care or therapy and wants to continue his education at Essex University or Anglia Ruskin University.

But both universities said he would not be able to have the dog with him as Holly is not an accredited service animal.

Mr Colville, 23, of Colchester, said: “I honestly do not think there is a way around it as it seems to be their policies.”

Mr Colville hoped being able to study for further qualifications would help him get ahead in the job market.

He has also considered training Holly to be a therapy dog so she could help others too.

Although Holly is not an accredited service dog, Mr Colville does carry official documentation which confirms she is allowed to be with him in places like supermarkets.

Mr Colville said: “Before I got her I would sit in bed in the corner of my room all day, every day.

“If I have an emotional attack she can do deep pressure therapy and all sorts of things. She is emotional support for me.”

A spokesman for Essex University said it was speaking to Mr Colville in the hopes of finding a solution.

He said: “We are seeking to discuss his situation in more detail to see if we are able to support his request to have his dog with him should he apply to the university.”

Anglia Ruskin University said it does allow assistance support dogs on campus with prior written agreement if they were accredited service animals.

He said: “While individuals are generally prohibited from bringing animals into our buildings, assistance dogs may be kept and used by a disabled person for the purpose of assisting them in dayto-day activities.

“While emotional support dogs do not have the same legal privileges, these dogs are still permitted on campus with the prior written agreement of the university.

“All dogs must be trained and accredited as service animals, in accordance with our policy.”

More information about assistance dogs can be found here.