DSA changes bring uncertainty for disabled students

AbilityNet helps students in all stages of educationAbilityNet is concerned that disabled students face greater uncertainty about their ongoing studies, following the government’s recent announcement that it will restructure Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs) from 2016/17. Many disabled students rely on DSAs to level the playing field in higher education but the new plans will affect many thousands of students and put a question mark over the future of the existing scheme.

Nigel Lewis, chief executive of AbilityNet said:

“We recognise the need for the Government to spend tax-payer’s money wisely and gain the greatest return. However, these are substantial changes and we are concerned that any dissipation of support will directly have a direct impact on disabled students' success in higher education, which in turn will impact their future employment opportunities.

“It is essential that our education system is available to everyone and that there is fairness across the sector. The new plans shift the emphasis onto the individual higher education institutions, which may create a postcode lottery for disabled students if we are not careful.”

AbilityNet is a national provider of DSA assessments and works very closely with disabled students and universities across seven centres in the UK to ensure the students receive the assessment, support and adjustments they need. The changes place a greater emphasis on higher education institutions providing increased support to students under the Equality Act 2010.

Many students who have been able to claim DSAs will now not be eligible for government funding, but Student Finance will have a process for considering exceptional circumstances and awarding DSA funding where it would not ordinarily be available.

Nigel Lewis continues:

“We hope to strengthen our partnerships with the colleges and universities that our assessment centres support to ensure that there is a fair provision for disabled students wherever they choose to study.”

AbilityNet's DSA Claim It! Campaign continues

AbilityNet is running a campaign to encourage disabled students to claim their DSA during this academic year. This announcement makes it more important than ever that everyone who is eligoble claims the extra support they are enttiled to. For more information on how to support the campaign visit: www.abilitynet.org.uk/claimitdsa

For further information about this story please contact Catherine Grinyer on 07713 248387 or email: press.office@abilitynet.org.uk