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The University of Southampton
Enabling ServicesPart of Student Services

Disabled students allowances (DSA)

As a student with a disability, health condition, mental health problem or specific learning difficulty (SpLD), you may be eligible for additional funding through Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs). Supporting evidence is required.

Information on how to apply is provided below.

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Disabled Students' Allowances are government grants available to UK students in higher education with an evidenced disability, health condition, mental health problem or specific learning difficulty (SpLD) to help with extra costs incurred while studying.

For example:

  • Specialist equipment, such as computer software.
  • Non-medical helpers, such as a study skills tutor, mentor, practical assistant or note taker.
  • Extra travel costs resulting from your disability.
  • Cost of a needs assessment.
  • Cost of assistive technology training.

DSAs do not cover disability-related costs which you would have if you were not attending a course, or costs that any student might have.

Disabled Students Allowances Changes

Following the changes to the Disabled Students Allowance for 2015/16, those students assessed as needing a computer are now required to pay the first £200 which is the minimum cost that any student is likely to incur when buying a computer. 

As of 2018/19 the University of Southampton have agreed to reimburse this cost if your assessed household income is below £30,000 per year. Entitlement will be checked using either the Student Finance England’s Household Income Assessment Portal or through a referral for a Student Support Fund Assessment.  

Criteria for entitlement are:

  • Student Status: Either ‘current student’ or those that have an unconditional firm accepted offer to study here at the University of Southampton
  • Household Income of less than £30,000 per year
  • Disabled Students Entitlement letter from SFE (DSA2) detailing DSA computer recommendations for 2015/16
  • Receipt for Computer

Please note that if the cost of the computer is under £200 (entry level) the University will pay the value of the computer recommended.

Those that believe they meet the above criteria or would like more detail regarding this scheme should contact Enabling Services in the first instance.

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You are eligible for DSAs if:

  • Your condition affects your ability to study.
  • You qualify for student finance (this does not mean that you have to have taken it).

And you will be undertaking:

  • A full-time course that lasts at least one year.
  • A part-time course that lasts at least one year and does not take more than twice as long to compete as an equivalent full-time course (for courses starting before 1 September 2012).
  • A part-time course that lasts at least one year and does not take more than four times as long to complete as the full-time equivalent (starting from 1 September 2012).

You are not eligible for DSAs if:

  • You are an EU or International student.
  • You are a sandwich-course student on a full year placement (although certain voluntary or public sector positions may still qualify).
  • You are receiving equivalent support from another funding source, for example from your university or a social work bursary.

The Government is currently reviewing eligibility for DSAs. You are advised to keep up to date with relevant announcements from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

Evidence of eligibility

You will need to satisfy your funding body (Student Finance England, the NHS, or other funding body) that the effects of your condition will mean that you will have extra costs as a result of attending your course.

Physical disability, long-term health condition or mental health problem

If you are physically disabled, have a long-term health condition or impairment, or have a mental health problem, you will need to provide medical evidence such as a letter from your doctor or specialist. If you have more than one condition you should provide evidence for all of them. The evidence is expected to show that you meet the definition of disability given in the Equality Act 2010. This means that the evidence must state the effects of the disability, long-term health condition, or mental health problem on:

  • Study and study-related activities.
  • Normal daily activities.

Neither kind of activity is restricted to physical activities. Cognitive activities such as processing information and memory are normal daily activities and are also study-related.

Specific learning difficulty

If you have a specific learning difficulty (SpLD), such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD, your funding body will need evidence of this from a suitably qualified person, such as an educational psychologist or specialist teacher. As for physical disability, long-term health conditions or mental health problems, the evidence is expected to show that you meet the definition of disability given in the Equality Act 2010.

If your most recent SpLD assessment was carried out before you were 16 years old, your funding body may ask for an update to see what impact your SpLD is likely to have on the skills you need for higher education. We can help you arrange an updated or new SpLD assessment. Please contact us.

Your funding body cannot pay for diagnosing your disability to establish your eligibility for DSAs. If you are not sure if your evidence is valid for a claim of DSA, ask your funding body what evidence of your disability they will need before you send in your application.

If you need a test to establish your eligibility for DSAs, but cannot afford the fee, you can apply for help in meeting the costs through the Access to Learning Fund, but contact us first as we will be able to advise you on this course of action.

Funding bodies include:

  • Student Finance England
  • Student Finance Wales
  • Student Finance Northern Ireland 
  • Student Awards for Scotland 
  • NHS Bursary 
  • Open University

Arrange a needs assessment

Once your funding body has confirmed your eligibility for DSAs, they will ask you to have a needs assessment carried out by an approved needs assessment centre, such as the University of Southampton’s Wessex Needs Assessment Centre (WNAC).

You can book a needs assessment with WNAC easily. We recommend that you book an assessment in plenty of time.

WNAC is able to provide assessments for disabled students not in receipt of DSAs but who have alternative funding to meet the cost of assessment and support. This includes students who wish to self-fund. Contact us and we will be able to advise you.

The University of Southampton welcomes all students with disabilities, including international students. Disability can come in many different forms including physical disabilities, sensory disabilities (e.g. visual or hearing impairment), mental health problems, specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia), medical conditions and other disabilities. The University wishes all students to have an equal opportunity to succeed and provides support to help with this.

Services open to all

Many of the services that we provide are open to all students. For example, international students can access alternative exam arrangements, dyslexia tutorials and learning support in the same way that UK students can.

DSA funding

Disabled Students' Allowances pay for equipment and support which UK students require to help them achieve here in Southampton. However, international students are not eligible for Disabled Students' Allowances. Therefore, international students should first investigate sources of funding in their home countries.

The scholarships in our additional funding section may also be a source of funding.

Help from the University of Southampton

The University has a small amount of money available to help international students with disabilities. Support may include:

  • One-to-one study skills tutorials 
  • Learning support such as note taking or library support

What should I do?

It is very important to register with Enabling Services. Please contact us as soon as possible.

You will need to provide evidence of your disability before any support can be provided.

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