Members look to fill information gap faced by DSA claimants

17 December 2019

Efforts are underway to provide disabled students with information on Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) and how to apply for them, the Quality Assurance Group (QAG) closes on December 20.

BATA and other organisations point out the important role QAG plays in signposting students to resources that support them in their studies.

Assessment company ATOP has launched the DSAHub, a website that provides a search tool for students to find their nearest assessment centre, information about the DSA process and a list of university disability officers.

A needs assessment centre search feature is a key part of QAG’s current website, which will be closed on December 20.

The Student Loans Company (SLC) plans to direct students to a list of needs assessment centres in the DSA1 letter that students receive informing them that they are eligible for DSA.

A second search tool on the QAG website, for NMH providers, will not be available following DSA- QAG’s closure. Instead, needs assessors can consult a list of suppliers for DSA-funded NMH which will be published shortly.

However, the Association of Non-Medical Help Providers (ANMHPs) has created a database, NMH Search that provides the same funactionality as the QAG tool, but with additional features.

The Department of Education has once again told AT service providers and providers of needs assessments that tenders will be launched shortly by the Students Loan Company (SLC). In the meantime both groups are expected to abide by the existing quality assurance frameworks.

New contracts for needs assessment providers are expected in the autumn, while details of new auditing and quality assurance arrangements for NMH providers will be announced shortly, says DfE.

DfE has warned that it plans spot checks and “reserves the right to take action as appropriate in response to any concerns”.

Meanwhile Student Finance Wales has put forward plans to amalgamate the four separate elements in DSA into a single grant and make universities and colleges responsible for study needs assessments.