Leading Disabled Students Allowances (DSA) suppliers have taken a decision to withhold payments for audits to the Quality Assurance Group (QAG) for the time being.
Seventeen members of BATA’s AT Solutions Providers (ATSP) group have written to QAG explaining that they have instructed their accounts departments to cease paying invoices to the organisation, which carries out quality assurance for the DSA scheme.
The solutions providers are also debating whether to stop sending reports about key performance indicators and student feedback to QAG.
The reason for withholding payments is the recently announced cuts to the DSA scheme. Solution providers calculate sales will be 5% or less of the value of what they were two years ago, and some 10% of what they are at present.
“This means that any DSA ATSPs who continue to supply after September 2015 will be doing so on a tiny scale, and to very different standards,” the companies say in their letter.
“The audit will be testing suppliers and services who will mostly not be around for 2015-16. And by the time the audit has happened, it will be far too late to have any impact on the vast majority of supply for 2014-15. It would therefore be a complete waste of public money.”
ATSP companies have suggested an autumn meeting with QAG when the government guidelines will be available and it might be clearer what level of fees are appropriate.
“David Willett's statement and subsequent discussions and communications from BIS make it clear that practically all equipment, and practically all of the one-stop shop provision, which has been developed with you over the last 20 years and enshrined in the Quality Assurance Framework, has little or no value to the government, and will not be subsidised by it in future,” they added.
David Willetts has now left the cabinet and been replaced by Greg Clark (above) as minister for universities, science & cities.
“Many higher education reforms from this government have been controversial and unpopular with the sector," commented Sally Hunt, of the University and College Union.
"Now is a good time to re-evaluate them and for all parties to make clear exactly what they will be offering the electorate at the next election.”
The letter to QAG was signed by the following companies:
Amano Technologies Limited
Assistive Solutions Ltd
Avantek Computer Limited
Barry Bennett Ltd
Clear Links Support Ltd
Friendly Computers Ltd
Hamer Technology Ltd
Microlink PC (UK) Ltd
MKC Computers Ltd
Prima IT Ltd
Reach Data Technologies
Remtek Systems Limited
Sight & Sound Technology Ltd
Wyvern Business Systems Ltd