Deaf News: Disabled Student Allowance caps stop deaf students getting right support, charity says

Posted on July 4, 2013

lecturehallPresent caps on the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) mean that Deaf, hard of hearing and disabled students are not receiving the support they need, according to a recent report.

The Snowdon Trust, a charity providing grants to disabled students, has released a report shows that disabled postgraduates are most likely to be affected by a shortfall in funding.

Disabled Student’s Allowance is a government grant to provide extra financial help for students who have extra costs while studying, because of their disability. Any student with a disability can apply for DSA. An assessment by a specialised assessor is required to determine what equipment or support or modifications are necessary to meet a student’s needs.

However, the allowances are capped, so if a student’s needs exceed the budget limit, they will not get the support they are entitled to. They often have to ‘make do’ with far less study support than they need. Deaf and hard of hearing students often require additional financial support because of the costs of interpreting, speech to text and notetaking support.

Under the current system, Deaf and disabled postgraduates can receive a maximum of £10,260 a year in DSA, less than half of the amount available for undergraduates. The charity says the maximum postgraduate DSA would fund less than an hour and a half a day of sign language support for a Deaf student.

The report has pointed out that deaf and disabled students need extra help with fee funding for postgraduate studies. They are often less able to find or undertake suitable part-time employment to fund themselves through a postgraduate course, and anecdotal evidence suggests they find it harder to obtain commercial career development loans.

The charity described the current funding caps as “arbitrary” and that the caps should be abolished completely. They also said the current funding caps “discriminate against the most severely disabled who require the greatest levels of support.” The charity added that Deaf and disabled postgraduate students should not receive less support than undergraduate students.

Speaking to the Times Higher Education Supplement, Paul Alexander, chief executive of the Snowdon Trust, said: “There is still a way to go for disabled people to have real equal opportunity in higher education.

“Some of the brightest people are being denied the opportunity to achieve their true educational potential – yet this is their best route to future employment and greater financial independence.”

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, announced earlier this year that the DSA would increase by 1 per cent for 2014-15.

Have you experienced problems with DSA? Please leave a comment below.

By Paul Harrison, the Limping Chicken’s News Reporter. Paul is a freelance journalist, currently living and working in London. When not at his desk writing or tweeting, he can be found at a coffee shop or Loftus Road/The Stoop/Celtic Park (delete as applicable) mumbling insults at the referee or sloppy passing. Follow him on Twitter as @paulbharrison

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