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Disabled Students’ Allowances

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) provide help for students who, because of their disability, have additional costs.

They are paid in addition to the existing standard support for students and are available to full-and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students. Part-time students must be studying at least 50 per cent of a full-time course.

DSAs pay for the extra costs you have to pay in attending your course which are incurred because of a disability.

The type and level of DSAs support is identified by means of an assessment of course-related needs, carried out by an experienced assessor.

DSAs are made up of four possible elements:

  • a non-medical personal helper
  • major items of specialist equipment
  • travel to and from the university or college
  • a general allowance for other extra costs

How much you can get does not depend on your income or that of your family.

Unlike a student loan, this assistance does not have to be repaid. The money you may receive from DSAs does not count as ‘income’, so you, where necessary, may be entitled to income support or housing benefit.

Information on DSAs is contained in the guide ‘Bridging the gap: A guide to the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) in higher education’.

The application form and guidance notes can also be found on the Department for Education and Skills website.

Extra support

Support while at college or university is varied and can include having practical help from a personal assistant.

The two main types of support are:

  • non-medical helper assistance to help you study supported from the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)
  • support with day-to-day living provided by your social services department

The university’s Disability Adviser or Learning Support Co-ordinator can tell you about the support available and also help you to arrange the support.

Assistance to help you study

You may need assistance on a day-to-day basis to help you study. This could be someone to:

  • interpret words into sign language
  • take notes for you
  • write down your spoken words, for example, in an exam
  • help you overcome physical barriers

You should apply to your local education authority (LEA) for a DSA grant to pay for this type of support.

The LEA will request that you undergo an assessment to establish your course-related needs. Once that your LEA has agreed your needs, your university or college Disability Adviser may be able to assist you in recruiting and arranging this help.

Support with day-to-day living

You have the right to ask your local social services department for an assessment of your daily living needs – including any personal care or help you may require.

Going to university or college may mean that the support you are used to at home will no longer be available.

However, social services should provide you with the support you need.

You may choose to have ‘direct payments’ to buy services that meet your assessed needs instead of receiving services directly provided by social services.

The Disability Students’ Allowance (DSA) may help towards the cost of non-medical support.

Whether you are entitled to DSA, and the amount you receive, depends on a needs assessment.

Other help

There are many things universities can, and sometimes must do, to help students with disabilities. Here are some examples:

  • provide course materials in Braille
  • ensure buildings and facilities are accessible
  • provide specialist tuition
  • provide support during exams
  • allow additional time to complete courses

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