Under changes to the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) announced in April, fewer students are likely to receive laptops for help with dyslexia, while the additional costs of specialist accommodation for disabled students will not be met by the grant, except in exceptional circumstances.
In a written ministerial statement in April, universities and science minister David Willetts said he wanted the “limited public funding available for DSAs…targeted in the best way and to achieve value for money”.
The government will only pay “for higher specification or higher cost computers where a student needs one solely by virtue of their disability”, Mr Willetts said.
The government is also “changing our approach to the funding of a number of computer equipment, software and consumable items through DSAs that have become funded as ‘standard’ to most students”, he added.
The NUS has said it will hold a national lobby of MPs in their constituencies to raise the issue of cuts to grants received by about 55,000 students.
Hannah Paterson, NUS disabled students’ officer, said: “Disabled students should not have to fight for the support they need. They should not see their education jeopardised by government cuts.”
The NUS has also criticised Mr Willetts’ failure to offer any precise projections about the impact of the cuts, saying “it has been kept deliberately vague”.
However, they said the number of students receiving help and the amount awarded, worth £120 million in 2012-13, was likely to fall in 2016 when the new measures take effect.
Under the new system, universities will be asked to take greater responsibility to provide non-medical support, such as proofreading and note-taking, for students with learning difficulties.