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DSA funding is available for UK students with disabilities


DSA (Disabled Students' Allowance) Funding

The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) funding is available for UK students with disabilities (including dyslexia) who are undertaking full time courses in Higher Education. Part-time students, studying on a designated part-time higher education course are also eligible for DSAs, as are post graduate students. Nursing and Midwifery Diploma students are also eligible – there is specific information for Healthcare students. Open University students also have their own scheme. There is a very similar scheme in Scotland. The award is intended to cover any extra costs or expenses a student may have to meet whilst studying, that arise because of a disability. DSAs do not depend on your or your parents’ income and there is no upper age limit.

The rates of allowances for the 2015/16 academic year (unchanged from 2014/2015), for new students, are as follows:

1. Specialist equipment allowance: up to £5,212 for the whole of your course – the same for part-time students. For dyslexic students this can mean computer, scanner, general purpose and specialist software, speech recognition software, text-to-speech software, mind mapping software, a digital voice recorder, note-taking software, note-taking hardware, an electronic dictionary or spell checker, a reading pen or portable scanner, coloured overlays etc, insurance and course-long support for the equipment, according to your individual needs.

2. Non-medical helper’s allowance: up to £20,725 per year of your course – up to £15,543 for part-time students. For dyslexic students this can mean training to use your specialist equipment (although can be included in the equipment allowance); extra help to deal with study skills, reading skills, work organisation, grammar, spelling and numeracy difficulties; but not extra tuition for your course.

3. General disabled student’s allowance: up to £1,741 for each academic year – up to £1,305 for part-time students. For dyslexic students this can mean extra photocopying, recording tapes (for lectures), coloured paper or even extra books if your dyslexia means that you cannot read books in the library in the normal way. As with the non-medical helpers’ allowance, part-time students are eligible for an allowance of the equivalent percentage to their course. The cost of your needs assessment will also come from the General Allowance.

Postgraduates can get a single allowance of up to £10,362 a year. These rates are the maximum you can get. They are meant to cover people with a high level of need, so most dyslexic students will get quite a lot less than the maximum. You will only get enough money from the DSA to cover the cost of the equipment or support that the funding body agrees that you need.

We are happy to quote for and supply any of the equipment and supplies we have mentioned, including the computer system and training on the system, as a “one-stop shop”. This has the advantage that you are dealing with one supplier who is responsible for making sure that the different items all work together. We also specialise in understanding the specific needs of people with dyslexia and other disabilities.

We have taken an active role in setting up a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for DSA Suppliers; now known as the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF), so that you know what to expect from those of us who offer specialist services to meet the needs of students with DSAs. Our Chairman, Ian Litterick, was the first DSA suppliers’ representative on the DSA Quality Assurance Group (QAG). We aim to offer an even better standard than that set by the SLA.