Disabled Student Allowances (DSA) and funding cuts
Effects of DSA backlog may be exacerbated by higher education funding cuts
As government figures show that two thirds of disabled students are still waiting for funding to cover the costs of academic support services, Equality Challenge Unit said today that the sector must ensure that the increasing number of disabled students aren't further disadvantaged by financial cutbacks.
The ongoing backlog of Disabled Student Allowances (DSA) payments comes at a time when the number of disabled students entering higher education is increasing year on year, and funding cuts are starting to take effect across the sector.
Levi Pay, Interim Policy Director at ECU, said:
'Higher education institutions have a legal responsibility to provide reasonable adjustments and support for disabled students, even if DSA payments have not yet been processed or received by students.
Unless the issues highlighted by the recent report from Professor Hopkin are rectified, even more students will face trying to start the academic term without the support they need. No doubt the problems will also discourage other disabled people from entering higher education in the first place.
Many institutions have been trying to bridge the funding gap for students, but this ongoing delay could not have come at a worse time. Funding cuts are starting to take effect in universities and colleges at the same time as more and more disabled students are entering higher education.
Where funding cuts are necessary, they must be intelligent cuts. If a university or college imposes an arbitrary 'across the board' funding cut on those student support services that are experiencing increased student demand, this increases the risk that unlawful discrimination will occur.
Such unintelligent cuts on the funding of student support services are also a false economy, leading to far greater costs for institutions further down the line, when they impact on student retention rates, increase the frequency of student complaints and erode the morale of staff working in student services.'