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Disabled Students Allowances: Over half of eligible students miss out

14 August 2019

Confusion over what is meant by disability, and poor awareness of a widely available fund, has led to 60% of eligible disabled students missing out on financial support at university.

A report from the Department for Education in England, released earlier this year, revealed 60% of eligible students had never heard of Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) - which could make attending university more achievable.

The DSA fund can provide up to £30,000 for support including assistive computer software, transport, mentors or British Sign Language interpreters.

Many believe DSAs need better promotion in schools so that they are taken up by more students who do not realise their access needs can be met.

Only 13% of those who received DSAs had been informed about them by their school or college, according to the report.

The DfE report also found that 31% of young people found the application difficult, while 32% found it hard to source medical evidence.

Making phone calls and attending meetings and assessments can exacerbate anxiety for some people, especially for those with learning or communication difficulties.

The DfE concluded that knowing about the availability of DSAs before university helped two out of five disabled people decide to apply for higher education.

While it found the numbers positive but admitted "not enough students know about DSA at the point of application". It added that those who applied to university without knowing about the allowances would have had their minds put at rest.

Disability Rights UK’s Disabled Student Adviser Rundip Thind agrees more needs to be done in schools and colleges to let people know what is available. She says:

"Not knowing what you may get can result in some people not applying It's sometimes felt that what you get isn't worth the hassle and students would rather not go through an assessment process."

She also says awareness needs to happen at an earlier stage for DSAs to have a greater impact.

The DfE report Evaluation of disabled students’ allowances is available here.

Source and for further information see - Disabled Students' Allowances: Over half of eligible students miss out @ www.bbc.co.uk

DR UK has a number of useful education related factsheets including applying for a DSA.

Information about DR UK’s Disabled Student’s Helpline is here.

Note - Disabled Students' Allowances:

  • The average amount granted is £500 per student
  • There is no deadline for DSA applications, but it can take up to 14 weeks to get the support in place
  • Students are entitled to the allowance regardless of the institution they attend
  • The allowance is neither means-tested nor repayable
  • Students needing software are expected to pay the first £200 - the minimum cost any student is likely to incur when buying a computer