Did you know that the Government has announced its intention to make major cuts to the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)?
If these plans go through it could have a significant effect on some disabled students’ ability to come to University from 2015/16
What is DSA?
DSA's are a non means-tested financial help for students with disabilities, long term health conditions, mental health condition or specific learning disability such as Dyslexia or Dyspraxia.
What would these cuts mean for Reading?
The government has announced substantial cuts to Disabled Students Allowances including
Abolishing government funding for manual note-takers, mentoring, lab assistants, sighted assistants for disabled students (Band 1 and Band 2 support). Non-Medical Helpers come in the form of note-takers, academic and social mentors, sight guides, laboratory assistants, library assistants. The support is given to students who are blind, partially sighted, D/deaf, students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, those with limited or no manual dexterity. Currently this would mean cutting 70% of all support given to disabled students at The University of Reading.
No longer funding standard computers for disabled students (they will only buy computers for those students whose disability mean they need higher spec computers to run assistive software. Neither will they pay for printers or peripherals
No longer paying for the difference between standard accommodation and accommodation required to meet disability needs (e.g. en-suite accommodation or larger rooms for wheelchair users)
Restrict the parameters of who will be entitled to DSAs to those with ‘complex needs’. No detail has yet been given on this, but as they have also announced they will only fund those covered by The Equality Act 2010, this could mean that dyslexic students are no longer awarded DSA funding (or that only severely dyslexic students are funded).
What are we doing about it?
The University of Reading and RUSU are working together to limit the impact that these proposed changes will have on disabled students at the University and it’s worthwhile saying that at this stage the government’s plans have not yet been confirmed. We are in contact with the NUS and our local MP to make sure the full impact of these changes are understood and plans to cut DSA are reversed. You can help us put the strongest possible case forward for saving DSA:
What can you do?
Remember, current students will be funded through SFE in the same way for 2015-2016. If you are concerned about what these changes could mean for you or somebody you care about, support is available. Talk to the Disability Advisory Service or a RUSU Adviser for more information.
Below are letters that the Vice-Chancellor has sent to the local MPs, John Redwood MP and Rob Wilson MP supporting the DSA campaign: