For students with disabilities, getting the right type of support makes a lifetime of difference. Yet, lots of students have no idea what support is out there, where to go or how to find it. Students can get support at university through the Disabled Students’ Allowance or DSA.
The DSA is a fund to help study-related costs students incur because of a disability. This could be a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition or long term illness. Here's how it works.
Students apply for the DSA online through student finance. Before getting started, they’ll need evidence of their condition. For a specific learning difficulty it will be a diagnostic assessment report. Or it could be a medical report from a doctor, or other medical professional.
The type of support and how much a student gets is based on their individual needs. This is not means-tested and there is nothing to pay back.
Support can include funding for specialist equipment. As well as travel costs and non-medical helpers.
The student will receive a letter inviting them to a DSA Needs Assessment Centre. An assessment might sound scary but in this case it’s an informal chat with no right or wrong answers.
Not everybody with the same condition is going to have the same needs. The assessment is a chance for the student to tell the assessor what they find difficult.
The assessment itself can last anywhere from 1-2 hours. During this time the assessor will look at different tools with the student.
Together, they will agree what support the student needs to achieve at university.
A report by the assessor gets sent for approval. This includes what is being recommended and how that should help the student.
Once approved, the student will phone the supplier to have their equipment delivered. This will also involve training on how to use their new tools.
The assessor is also there to support the student throughout their course. Over two, three, four and even five years different things come up. Students can contact their needs assessor to have new support included under the DSA.