Responding to the government’s plans to restructure the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) announced last week, national charity AbilityNet is concerned that disabled students face greater uncertainty about their ongoing studies.
Many disabled students rely on the DSA to level the playing field, yet the new plans, which will take effect in the 2016/17 academic year, put a question mark over 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 impact disabled students ability to undertake their studies, which in turn will impact their future employment opportunities.
“It is essential that our education system is available to everyone, and ensuring 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 7 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. There will be an exceptional case process whereby DSA Assessors can request that Student Finance consider 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 is running a campaign to encourage disabled students to claim their DSA during this academic year, for more information on how to support the campaign visit:www.abilitynet.org.uk/claimitdsa
A national charity, AbilityNet helps people with disabilities use digital technology at home, at work and in education. Find out more at www.abilitynet.org.uk