DSA charge is a double whammy for disabled students says parliamentary group

23 July 2019

The £200 charge for hardware that disabled students are asked to contribute under Disabled Students Allowances means they pay twice for the hardware they need to run assistive applications.

This is the main finding of a report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for AT (APPG for AT) entitled Disabled Students Allowances: Giving Students the Technology they Need.

“The Government needs to recognise that most students – whether disabled or not – will already have a laptop when they apply for university, but that they are unlikely to be suitable for running assistive software,” says the APPG for AT

Disabled students will only be recommended a DSA laptop by assessors, if their machine is not powerful enough, says the report.

“In these cases, asking the student to pay twice does not meet the principles of fairness and value for money that were the rationale for the £200 charge.”

The APPG for AT, chaired by Lord Holmes and MP Seema Malhotra, urges the Government to remove “this unfair obstacle” or add the charge to a student’s loan.

Since the £200 charge was introduced in 2015 there has been a declining number of orders and a growing gap between the number of assessments and the number of orders. Overall the take-up of AT has dropped by 20%.

Some universities are funding the £200 because they recognise it is a charge on disabled students. It is an out of pocket expense that causes delay and disruption to the student experience.

The charge is one of a number of barriers, such as doctor’s notes, that come on top of an already expensive role for students, the report concludes.