Disabled Students’ Allowance planned cuts postponed

CONTROVERSIAL cuts to the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)  have been postponed until the 2016-17 academic year, it was announced in a statement released today [12th] by Greg Clark, Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities.

The changes were originally meant to take place next year and looked to give universities greater responsibilities for the costs of DSA.

Mr Clark stated that:

“concern was conveyed that some universities may not be able to meet their obligations in full by the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year, given their need to invest in additional support for their students”.

“Accordingly we have agreed to give higher education institutions until the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year to develop appropriate mechanisms to fully deliver their statutory duty to provide reasonable adjustments, in particular non-medical help, and to improve the processes by which disabled students can appeal against a higher education institution’s decision that an adjustment would not be reasonable.”

The changes were originally unveiled by Mr Clark’s predecessor, David Willetts, in April. The NUS branded Mr Willetts as “arrogant and out of touch” at the time of the announcement.

DSAThe NUS has led a student campaign since the reforms were first proposed. They argued:

“these reforms represented a tremendous risk to disabled students and their ability to study in higher education”.

Maddy Kirkman, NUS Disabled Students’ Officer said:

“Students up and down the country have been clear that the proposed reforms to the disabled students’ allowance represented a huge risk, and would have left many disabled students high and dry.

“Through coming together to forcefully make the case that these reforms would not work, together with a really broad coalition of MPs from all parties, students have ensured that this was a key issue for Greg Clark to address on taking up his new role as Universities Minister. It is to his credit that he has listened to these concerns and agreed to pause on the reforms for this year, and will consult and reflect before moving forward.​

“The Minister has heard the concerns articulated so powerfully by students and responded accordingly, and this is to be commended.

“The disabled students’ allowance is an incredibly important means of support for so many, and we will of course continue to make this case, and ensure that where there is reform it is to make the system work better for disabled students.

“We do still hold some concerns around the £200 contribution and we will want more detail on how BIS intends that this is paid/collected, and what help can be provided in cases of particular hardship. For example, postgraduates who qualify for the DSA but who don’t get any other statutory support.”