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Disability and Dyslexia Service

DSA

Most students from the United Kingdom with a Specific Learning Difference (SpLD) e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD, a disability or a long-standing mental health issue will be eligible for the DSA. The best way to think of the DSA is as a non-means tested grant which pays for the additional support that a disabled student needs to get through their course – that said, it can only be used to pay for services, e.g. Specialist One to One Study Skills Support or equipment.

The majority of students at Queen Mary University of London will have their DSA award administered by Student Finance England, but if they are from another part of the United Kingdom then their national equivalent body will deal with it, i.e. Student Finance Northern Ireland, Student Finance Wales or the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). For medical and dental students in the final years of their degree programmes their awards will be administered by the NHS Student Bursaries department.

We have produced a DSA Process Guide for SpLD Students [DOC 43KB] flow chart for students with SpLDs. An accessible description of this is available in our DSA Process Guide [DOC 15KB]. If you would like to request a copy of our DSA process guide for SpLD students in an alternative format please contact us.

More information is provided by the government on their website and an overview is presented in the video below.

Transcript of Disabled Students' Allowances Video [DOC 15KB]

A selection of other videos explaining DSAs and other financial support are available from Student Finance England.

Rather than regurgitate the information that is already available through the government website linked to in the last paragraph, this webpage is designed to answer some of the frequently asked questions which students have in relation to their DSA award and also to explain the role of the Disability and Dyslexia Service versus that of your DSA needs assessor (and the assessment centre that they work for).

Changes to the DSA

Over a number of years the government has “rebalanced” various strands of support previously provided by the DSA – as of September 2015 students are required to pay the first £200 toward the cost of any computer awarded through the DSA and as of September 2016 DSA no longer pays for what were previously known as ‘Bands 1 and 2’ human support, e.g. note-taking support.

Details on how to apply for Non-Specialist Human Support from the Disability and Dyslexia Service can be found here.

For more information on how Queen Mary has responded to the requirement for students to pay £200 toward the cost of a computer please see our page for new students.

The role of the needs assessor and assessment centre

Our needs assessment page explains in great detail the processes involved with attending a needs assessment. Yours needs assessment is commissioned and paid for by your DSA funding body, e.g. Student Finance England. They pay the assessment centre who conduct the assessment of need a fee (usually between £600 and £700) to produce the report, along with the justification of the recommendations and costings, along with multiple quotes.

If you wish to change any aspect of the report, e.g. you want a different computer, or you want one form of human support and not another, this has to be communicated to the DSA funding body by the needs assessor as the author and owner of that report.

NB: the needs assessment fee covers not just the initial assessment and its report, but any additional queries relating to the student so long as they remain on the same course and at the same institution.

The role of the Disability and Dyslexia Service

As such, there is very little we can do to amend an assessor’s recommendations other than present your case to the needs assessor, the assessment centre manager or, ultimately, the quality assurance body that oversees the DSA on behalf of the tax payer. If we do not think there is a disability related justification for a requested needs assessment change then we won’t agree to do this.

Rather, our role is to implement those elements of your support that we have been awarded – usually, this will be Specialist One to One Study Skills Support, (we do not have any other in-house human support and we do not provide any equipment).

Application for £200 award towards the cost of a computer provided through the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) 2021/22

Please note that these forms are for currently enrolled QMUL students who have applied for a Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA) and have been asked to contribute £200 towards the cost of a computer. These students can apply to have the £200 paid by Queen Mary University of London via the Financial Assistance Fund.

If you have yet to enrol, or you have not had a response from your DSA needs assessment from either Student Finance England (or alternative DSA funding body) then you will not be able to submit this form until you have completed enrolment and received confirmation from SFE etc. that they expect you to pay £200 toward the price of a computer through the DSA.

How do I know if I am eligible for the £200 award?

 If you are an undergraduate student who:

  1. Is in receipt of the QMUL Bursary or
  2. Is in receipt of a means-tested NHS bursary or
  3. Has been assessed as having a household income of below £42,875

Please complete the form below:

If you are:

  1. an undergraduate not in receipt of the QMUL Bursary or a means-tested NHS bursary or your household income is above £42,875 or

  2. a postgraduate student

Please complete the full Financial Assistance application form and your eligibility will be assessed based on your financial need.

To apply: 

  • Log in to your MySis portal and go to the Scholarships and Bursaries page (click + if not visible)
  • Click on ‘Apply for Scholarship or Bursary’
  • Select ‘Financial Assistance Fund’ from the funding type dropdown and complete the online application screens
  • Make sure you upload a copy of your DSA Entitlement Letter (DSA2) in addition to the required documentation
  • Make sure you click the ‘Submit’ button on the final screen

When is the closing date?

You should submit your claim within 3 months of receiving your DSA2 letter. If you are an undergraduate student in your final year the closing dates is 4 weeks before the end of your academic year. For all other students the closing date is 15th July 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: I’ve got my DSA2 letter. What do I do now?

Answer: Without wishing to sound trite, the best advice is to read the content of the DSA2 letter carefully – SFE in particular have worked very hard to make sure what is often a very arcane and complex process can be followed easily by reading the DSA2 award letter. The DSA2 will explain who to contact (and how) in order to secure delivery of your specialist equipment and to arrange your recommended human support.

Question: My assessor recommended a PC but I’d prefer a Mac. Can I use the money available through my DSA to buy an Apple system?

Answer: The needs assessor recommends technology of a specification adequate to support recommended software, but it is recognised that some students may wish to amend this.  The various DSA funding bodies may be willing to agree to this, provided students are prepared to pay any additional cost and the efficacy of recommendations remains unaffected.

Question: I’d like to use some of my own money to upgrade my recommended computer. How do I do this?

Answer: The DSA-QAG approved computer suppliers are businesses and will be happy for you to pay more money for a higher spec system. However, we would recommend that you think about issues such as battery life and also when considering a change in printer you should think about the cartridge life and the type of printing which you will need before committing to either a LaserJet or Inkjet printer.

Question: What if I do not have insurance but have warranty cover?

Answer: Every computer retailer will provide at least twelve months of warranty on a new system and should your machine develop a fault the warranty will cover this. The DSA-QAG approved suppliers are required to provide longer warranties than usual to cover the duration of three or four year degree courses.

Insurance is not the same thing as a warranty – if your computer is, for example, stolen or damaged by a flooded bedroom or otherwise needs replacing then you will need to claim from the insurance company used by your supplier. If you do not have any insurance, you won’t be able to get a replacement machine through the DSA.

Question: My DSA has awarded me Specialist One to One Study Skills Support – do I really need this and what is it?

Answer: You will have been allocated a set number of hours of Specialist One to One Study Skills Support EITHER per year OR in total. The concept of study skills is that it will ultimately allow you to study autonomously – think of it as a bit like having to take driving lessons before you are allowed to drive on your own. Among the ways that study skills can improve your academic performance are:  

  • Looking at how you tackle an assignment; e.g. if you are taking 20 hours completing an assignment, how can your time be made more efficient so that you use only 10 hours? You may consider yourself organised but how effective is your organisation? The study skills sessions can enhance your current abilities.
  • Allowing you to develop strategies such as how to record text you have read for research purposes and how to proofread your work to avoid all grammar and spelling errors in less time.
  • Utilising the tutors’ time - what can they do to help? This may include things like helping you implement the feedback from your assignments, tips on sourcing specific literature / ideas / resources to help you with your course.

Question: Can I use to money allocated for human support (e.g. study skills) for something else, such as an iPad or more books?

Answer: No. It’s an assessment of need – you either need a particular type of support or you don’t.

Question: How do I claim back the money awarded to me through my General Allowance?

Answer: Again, this is clearly explained in the DSA2 letter. The letter explains how much you have been awarded for each item, e.g. printing consumables and you will need to send the relevant form (which you can find on our downloads page) along with receipts for the expenses you have incurred.  

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