In this article, the difficulties some Australian university students experience in academic learning environments are explored. Particular attention is given to the experiences of students whose difficulties are often portrayed as intrinsic to them, and who are diagnosed as having learning disabilities or 'disorders'. In so doing, dominant neuro-psychological perspectives on students' learning 'problems' are challenged, broadening the discussion to include sociocultural explanations of students' difficulties. Research that foregrounds these students' own accounts of their problems is reported, identifying a number of tests of time, association and dissimulation that they experience in coming to terms with the particular institutional requirements of university life. At the very least, these explanations draw attention to the need for university teaching scholars to also be learners, and to consider their own practices in the construction of learning difficulties for their students.