Disabled Students’ Allowance
What is DSA?
Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) funding can be used to cover additional study-related expenses that arise specifically as a result of your disability. It is available to full-time Higher Education students and part-time students studying at least 50% of a full-time equivalent higher education course. It comes in three parts:
- Basic Allowance (e.g. photocopying costs, small items of equipment).
- Large Items of Equipment Allowance (e.g. IT equipment, ergonomic furniture).
- Non-Medical Personal Help Allowance (e.g. the costs of a note taker, interpreter, proof-reader).
If you are studying at postgraduate level (including PhD level) you may still be eligible to claim DSA. This will be determined by the organisation which is funding your research.
How to apply
You will need to need to find out from your funding authority if you are eligible to claim DSA.
- Students from Scotland: Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS)
- Students from England: Student Finance England (SFE)
- Students from Wales: Student Finance Wales
- Students from Northern Ireland: Student Finance Northern Ireland (SFNI)
Student services staff at your enrolling college can advise you on the DSA process and the appropriateness of making a claim.
Our privacy notice explains in more detail how needs assessment data is used and processed by the university.
Any DSA funding awarded is valid only for that academic year so it is necessary to apply in each year of your current course, should you wish to do so. If you are a continuing student, your needs do not necessarily require to be assessed in each year of your course.
To apply for DSA from SAAS as a new student, you’ll need:
- A completed DSA application form for the academic year in which you are applying.
- A needs assessment report. This details the impact of your disclosed needs on your current course of study. Further details of the needs assessment process below.
- Robust professional evidence of your disability – this could be an Educational Psychologist’s report as formal diagnosis of a specific learning difficulty, a letter from your GP, etc. You may be referred to an external agency (e.g. for an Educational Psychologist’s assessment) to obtain the necessary evidence before the needs assessment process can be completed.
If you already have a formal diagnosis, or a previous DSA assessment report, you should provide this to student services staff at your enrolling college so that this can be considered prior to (or as part of) any new DSA referral.
The needs assessment process
You will be seen by a UHI DSA assessor wherever possible, but we will refer students externally where required. Technologies such as video conference or Skype can be used as appropriate.
- The first stage of the needs assessment is an informal discussion with your assessor to consider your support requirements and their likely impact on your studies at the university.
- The needs assessor will then discuss and/or demonstrate relevant equipment and technologies as required.
- Once you agree your needs assessment report, the assessor will provide confirmation to the university’s DSA Service that the necessary documentation is in place and send your application directly to SAAS for consideration. Your assessor will also send a copy of the finalised report to student services staff at your enrolling college.
If your enrolling college does not have a needs assessor on site, the university’s DSA Service will be notified and make a referral to an available assessor. As a guide, a referral will normally be made within two working weeks of the initial notification being received.
As a guide, the needs assessor will normally complete a draft needs assessment report within two working weeks of the needs assessment having been completed or as soon as is practicable thereafter, subject to the necessary evidence of need being in place.
Timescales vary according to the needs of the individual student, and the availability and capacity of a needs assessor, etc. The referral and needs assessment process may take longer during busier periods.
It is recommended that you start the process of applying for DSA as soon as possible, as your funding authority can take up to six weeks to review and process your DSA application.
Your funding authority will write to you with the result of your claim and will request further information from your disability adviser as appropriate.
Where DSA funding has been awarded your funding body will provide you with information and advice about accessing the recommended support and, where appropriate, ordering equipment or purchasing small items such as computer consumables. It’s important that you forward a copy of your payment letter to your disability adviser when you receive it.
The university’s DSA Service will offer a questionnaire survey to gather feedback specifically on your experience of the university’s needs assessment process.
You can also share your experiences via the university’s Red Button.
Anonymised extracts of student feedback will be published on this page and included in Annual Reports the university DSA Service as appropriate.
- “The university's process really couldn't have been better for me.” (2018/19 recipient of DSA)
- “Staff at my enrolling college … were very helpful, understanding and encouraging”. 2018/19 recipient of DSA)
Progress report (published every two years).
|You said||We did|
|Where can I find out more about the DSA assessment process?||Read an overview of the needs assessment process|
|Where can I find out more about the types of technology that might be available to me during my studies?||Visit our Assistive technology page.|