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The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a non-means tested grant that is paid by the Government to eligible disabled students, to cover extra study costs that are incurred by disabled students as a result of their disability.  DSA funding can cover the costs of providing support such as: non-medical help, assistive technology and specialist accommodation.

Higher education institutions must also provide assistance for disabled students.  The Equality Act 2010 places HEIs under a duty to make reasonable adjustments, to ensure that disabled students are not be treated unfavourably compared to other students.

The number of students claiming a DSA has risen significantly over the last decade and the cost of providing this support in 2014-15 was £144.1 million. 

In April 2014 the Minister for Universities announced that the Government would make changes to the DSA.  The changes aimed to improve value for money and rebalance the distribution of responsibility for disabled students between HEIs and the Government.  The reforms caused concern as they would increase costs for HEIs and could create uncertainty for disabled students. 

The reforms were delayed for a year and a consultation was conducted on the proposals.

On 2 December 2015 the response to the consultation was published and details of a new system of support were announced.  The new system will be in place for academic year 2016/17.

This briefing gives details of the new system, highlights issues and contains comment.  It follows on from library briefing paper SN/SP/6013, Changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), 14 October 2014.

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