Government to cut Disabled Students Allowance
On April 7th the government announced new changes to Disabled Students Allowance. The government are due to reduce the amount to be paid to students with less severe disabilities. This Friday – June 6th, the National Union of Students (NUS) are coordinating a national constituency-based lobby of MPs – mobilising the public to raise their concerns with their local MP.
Disabled Students Allowance is open to all higher education students living in England that are proven to have at least one of the following:
- A disability
- Long-term health condition
- Mental health condition
- Specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia
The support offered is dependent on the individual’s needs and is not means tested. There is also no age limit as to who qualifies for the support. In 2011-12 53,300 students received DSA, this rose to 54,900 in 2012-13. However, the amount actually paid out fell in that period from £125.1m to £119.9m.
No precise projections were offered in Mr Willetts MP’s statement and much of it has been kept deliberately vague. You can expect to see both the number of students and the amount provided fall from 2016, when the new measures take effect for students already on DSA.
Below is a summarised account of the changes to Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) according to David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science. Visit here for the full details: http://tinyurl.com/pn2zctf
“I am announcing a number of changes aimed at modernising the current system, subject to the Equality Impact Assessment. This will ensure that the limited public funding available for DSAs is targeted in the best way and to achieve value for money, whilst ensuring those most in need get the help they require.”
The current arrangements do not recognise technological advances, increases in use of technology or the introduction of the Equality Act 2010. It has been almost 25 years since the DSA scheme was reviewed, unlike other areas of student support.
The key changes are set out below:
- We will pay for higher specification or higher cost computers where a student needs one solely by virtue of their disability.
- We will no longer pay for standard specification computers or the warranties and insurance associated with them.
- We will no longer pay for higher specification and/or higher cost computers simply because of the way in which a course is delivered.
- We are changing our approach to the funding of a number of computer equipment, software and consumable items through DSAs that have become funded as ‘standard’ to most students.
- Students with Specific Learning Difficulties will continue to receive support through DSAs where their support needs are considered to be more complex.
- Existing DSA students and DSA students for 2014 to 2015 entry will remain on the current system of support for 2015 to 2016.
The changes also place a greater responsibility on Higher Education Institutions (HEI) to fund / provide non-medical support for those that do not have the most severe needs. For example, note taking used by many students with severe dyslexia for example will no longer be covered by DSA but left to the HEI.