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Lib Dems make manifesto pledge on DSA

Lib Dems make manifesto pledge on DSA

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to “maintain Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA).

The party’s manifesto says it wants to “ensure students with disabilities receive appropriate support in their university studies, and review the impact of any changes to consider additional protections for the most vulnerable students with disabilities”.

Meanwhile, BATA chair Antony Ruck has written to Greg Clarke, the former University Minister, to express BATA’s disquiet about the decision not to postpone the £200 charge, the only measure remaining from the original DSA proposals that has not been postponed until the academic year 2016/2017.

“We believe that the arguments for deferral are no different from those that have caused BIS to defer the other elements. That is to say, Higher Education Institutions are not ready to cater for the implications,” Ruck argued.

He made six points:

  • It will certainly be the last straw in deterring some students from applying for the DSA.
  • It will cause some more students to drop out of the DSA process already drop out during the onerous process anyway, which is a significant waste of money and time spent on diagnosis, assessment and guidance.
  • A number of students will not be able to afford the £200 so will need to seek help, probably from the HEI.
  • When students discover at the assessment (as some will) that they will have to find £200 towards new equipment, some will pull out, wasting the money for diagnosis and assessment that has already been spent on them. There is also an ethical, fair trading issue – some students will be in a position that they have already committed money and time to the DSA process only to discover that there is a great big “extra” to be added to their bill at checkout – the £200 contribution.
  • A number of disabled students will therefore arrive at the HEI with no DSA and therefore need the HEI to make reasonable adjustments.
  • A number of disabled students will object to spending a further £200 on a computer when they consider that they already have a device which is adequate for them, despite the fact that it is inadequate or substandard to run the AT that the assessment has recommended for them.

BATA representatives also attended a working party looking at DSA alternatives for Labour’s Liam Byrne. The meeting heard a number of views on how best to assess and deliver services to disabled students.