Disabled Students’ Allowance caps ‘should be scrapped’

Caps on the Disabled Students’ Allowance mean that students are not receiving the support they need, a recent report has claimed

July 2, 2013

Figures published by the Snowdon Trust, a charity that supports disabled students, suggest that postgraduates are most likely to be affected by a shortfall in funding.

According to the report, 56.2 per cent of postgraduates with disabilities said they had experienced financial difficulties at university compared with 29.2 per cent of undergraduates. Since 2008, five times as many postgraduates have applied for additional grants from the Trust.

Under the current system postgraduates can receive a maximum of £10,260 a year in DSA, less than half of the amount available for undergraduates. According to the Snowdon survey, the disabled postgraduate students find they have an average shortfall in their finances of £2,894, around £140 more than the shortfall experienced by undergraduates.

The most common reasons given for this gap in funding for both undergraduate and postgraduate students were the cost of human support, computer-based equipment and travel.

For example, mobility equipment and accommodation for carers are not covered by the DSA, as these are regarded as not directly related to study.

Chris Firmin, a PhD student in clinical psychology at the University of Bath quoted in the report, who is supported by the Snowdon Trust, said: “Due to my cerebral palsy I struggle to do any of the typing or physical aspects of the course, so I need an assistant for up to nine hours a day, five days a week. Unfortunately, because I am a postgraduate, the disabled students allowance will only pay for about four months of my assistant’s salary.”

Students with visual and hearing impairments also frequently require additional financial support. The maximum amount available to a postgraduate student through the DSA would only fund one hour a day of sign language support for someone with a hearing impairment.

Paul Alexander, chief executive of the Snowdon Trust, said: “[T]here 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.

“It seems wrong for someone to have to undergo a specific assessment of their additional disability-related needs only then to be told that all their identified needs are not going to be provided for…We would like to see the present arbitrary caps on Disabled Students’ Allowances scrapped completely.”

The Snowdon Trust, formerly the Snowdon Award Scheme, was founded in 1981 in order to “help disabled young people gain an equal footing”.

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

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate