Skip to main content

Disabled Students' Allowances - Key changes for 2015 to 2016 academic year

Student Finance England

This article or update has been provided by Student Finance England or Student Loans Company

Publication date: 03 July 2015

The DSA Guidance is now available online and this document is designed as quick reference guide to highlight the key changes and contains directions to the relevant policy information.

Disabled Students' Allowances Guidance Chapters

For the first time there will be two sets of DSA Guidance, new and continuing. Some of the changes apply to both groups of students whilst others apply to only one.

15/16 New DSA Guidance (Para 1.14)

  • Students applying for DSAs for the first time in 15/16
  • Students starting a new course where there has been a gap of 5 months since their previous course.

15/16 Continuing DSA Guidance

  • Students continuing on a course in 15/16 who previously had DSA on the same course.

£200 Student Contribution

New 15/16 students who are recommended and agreed a computer via the DSAs will be required to pay £200 towards the cost of this.

SFE will outline this contribution in the student’s DSA2 agreement letter. SFE will not be involved in how / when the students make this contribution to the supplier.

The Education (Student Support) (Amendment) Regulations 15/16 New DSA Guidance – Para 6.1

Students with their own computer

We anticipate that there will continue to be students who present at their Needs Assessment Interview with their own computer.

BIS have developed guidance to help Needs Assessors establish whether this computer is suitable for DSA purposes.

Guidance for Assessment Centres – Spec Checks

Specialist Equipment

The following items are specifically referenced and funding is either no longer available or only available in limited circumstances, please refer the relevant paragraph in the 15/16 New DSA Guidance:

  • Entry Level Computers (Para 6.1)
  • High Cost Computers (Para 6.1)
  • Low Weight Computers (Para 6.1)
  • Tablet Devices (Para 6.1)
  • Standard Software (Para 6.3) - MS Office is classed as standard software. Therefore, where a student is only recommended MS Office, this software and a computer would not be eligible for DSA funding.
  • Course Specific Software (Para 6.4)
  • Wheelchairs / Mobility Scooters (Para 6.5)
  • Radio Aids for Deaf Students (Para 6.6)

Screen Sizes – The standard screen size is set at 15” for laptops and 19” for desktops. Other recommended sizes must have full disability related justification.

SFE will continue to review any disability related justification for recommendations on a case-by-case basis.

Manual notetaker

For 15/16 onwards if a student requires a manual notetaker the Needs Assessor should establish whether these notes need to be typed or handwritten. The recommendation should justify the need for either medium.

Wherever possible the note taking should be produced in the student’s required medium at the time of the session.

Where it is not possible for notes to be typed during the session then additional time can be charged for these notes to be typed up.

The time quoted for typing up handwritten notes should equate to half an hour typing for every hour of Notetaking and the hourly rate for typing up should be no more than half the Notetaking rate.

15/16 DSA Guidance – 5.3.3

Non-Medical Helper - Friends and family

For 15/16 new and continuing students, where a request is made for the NMH Provider to a friend or family member; evidence must be provided to show they have the appropriate qualifications and employment status.

For the purposes of administering this, SFE will consider the appropriate qualifications to those outlined in the NMH Reference Manual.

15/16 DSA Continuing Guidance – Para 102

15/16 DSA Guidance – Para 3.2.5

Missed Sessions

For 15/16 new and continuing students, DSA funding will not be provided where the institution is responsible for cancelling the session. The institution must take responsibility for notifying the student that the session is cancelled to enable the student to cancel the NMH session with the NMH provider.

Guidance also confirms that support may be suspended where there are two or more missed sessions per term. This will be monitored closely by SFE.

15/16 DSA Continuing Guidance – Para 112

15/16 DSA Guidance – Para 3.2.5

Living accommodation

For 15/16 new students who are in en-suite accommodation in a unit where all accommodation is en-suite would not receive a contribution to their costs. This is because there is no standard room to use as a comparison.

Comparative costs must only be given for accommodation that is of the same standard as the one the student is living within the same block.

15/16 DSA Guidance – Para 8.2

Milage costs

For the 15/16 academic year the mileage rate for students using a private car will be 24p per mile.

This cost is calculated by using the mid-point range of AA motoring costs which includes an element for wear and tear on the car.

15/16 DSA Continuing Guidance – Para 34

15/16 DSA Guidance – Para 7.1

Parking costs

For 15/16 new and continuing students, SFE will not agree parking costs when attending the institution. Suitable parking facilities should be arranged by the institution as a reasonable adjustment.

15/16 DSA Guidance – Para 7.1

Taxi Accounts

SFE have always encouraged any student who needs taxi travel to set up an account. An account benefits the student as they do not need to pay out costs upfront and then claim reimbursement from SFE.

For 15/16 new students who require frequent (more than 15 returns or 30 single journeys per year) taxi travel will be required to set up an account with a licensed taxi provider.

To bring travel recommendations in to line with other aspects of DSA support, SFE will require two quotes for taxi companies for all recommendations for frequent taxi use.

To facilitate this process SFE have published a list of taxi companies who already have accounts for other students in receipt of DSA. This can be used as a reference tool when sourcing these two quotes. Needs Assessors are free to provide quotes for companies which are not on this list, the list is not mandatory.

15/16 DSA Guidance – Para 7.4

Read our Exchange article about Taxi recommendations

Additional recommendations

For 15/16 new and continuing students, SFE are only able to accept recommendations from Needs Assessors. This applies to all types of new and additional support.

15/16 DSA Continuing Guidance – Para 91

15/16 DSA Guidance – Para 8.1

Frequently Asked Questions

We've created a set of frequently asked questions which you can view below.

Download Disabled Students' Allowances 2015 to 2016 policy changes FAQs (PDF - 252KB)