Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)

Published: Mar 1st, 2012

Does Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) meet the needs of Deaf and hard of hearing postgraduate students, and is there enough access to information about it?

Please post your comment below with your own ideas and views.

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One Response to “Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)”

  1. Liana Lloyd says:

    I have interpreted for a number of different university courses and they all seem to operate in totally differing ways, which can cause confusion when a Deaf student starts their course. Problems are also caused when there are delays with the DSA and in this situation the student can lose out during the vital first weeks of their course.

    One student I worked for was doing a combined MA/MSC course over 2 years and the DSA yearly allowance was mostly used up within the first term! Fortunately in this situation the university funded the rest, which I think many other institutions would struggle to do especially in this economic climate. The reason for this is that undergraduate students have an allowance around £20,000 per year, yet postgraduate students only receive around £10,000 per year as they assume there is much more self directed study (and therefore that less support will be needed.) However, there are many postgraduate courses that are far more intense regarding teaching time and other sessions, such as group work where a Deaf student is likely to need interpreters.

    There is also a lack of knowledge within universities themselves about how to manage the DSA funding. I was told in one situation to invoice Student Finance England directly and they paid me months late as well as losing many of the timesheets I sent them. In the end I only agreed to carry on working there if I could invoice the university. In that situation much of the booking process was managed by the course administrator and she did not receive any extra monies for taking on this role.

    Some universities may agree to top up inadequate DSA allowances with their ALF (Additional Learning Fund). On the Directgov website it says this;

    The Access to Learning Fund – Who can apply?
    Help for students on full-time, part-time and postgraduate courses
    The Access to Learning Fund is available to:
    - full-time higher education students
    - full-time postgraduate students

    Part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students can also qualify, as long as their course:
    - lasts at least one year, and takes no more than twice as long to complete as an equivalent full-time course
    - If you have a disability or specific learning difficulty that means it will take more than twice as long to complete your course than would be typical for an equivalent full-time course, you may still be able to apply for help from the fund.

    The problem is that Student Finance England sees the DSA as a one size fits all solution and this does not match reality.

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