DSA Assessment

HNAC offers needs assessments for the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs).

A needs assessment is the key route to gaining resources through the DSA. DSAs are available to students in Higher Education with disabling conditions, this includes: dyslexia and SpLDs, mental health issues and long-term medical conditions; both full-time and part-time students are eligible for the allowance. There are guidelines available for determining who is entitled to student finance through the DSA, details are on the Gov.UK website, where application forms are available that can be submitted online: https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas/eligibility

It is also a good idea to contact the disability officer at the HE institution. They will be able to provide further information, as well as offering assistance in completing the application forms. Any application for student finance should precede the application for DSAs. Following receipt of agreement in writing from the appropriate funding body, such as Student Finance England or the NHS, a needs assessment can be arranged by following the links on the Contact page. HNAC is an assessment centre which is accredited nationally, by the DSA Quality Assurance Group, and applicants from any UK university are welcome.

It is essential to provide proof of disability, usually in the form of a doctor’s note; in the case of dyslexia, or other SpLD, an educational psychologist’s report is required. Needs assessments take place at Keltan House, in London Fields or LABS Atrium, in Camden. The meetings are based in a dedicated office where demonstration facilities are available. The needs assessment is intended to provide support for the duration of the higher education period. HNAC charges a single inclusive assessment fee, which will cover all work required for the duration of the course of study and applies to all students, both new and existing, the exception to this is where reviews are required to be undertaken which are not covered by the single fee arrangement; for a funded review or full fee assessment. The funding body will cover the £780 inclusive of VAT, currently charged for the needs assessment, from the general allowance portion of the funding. This is a single inclusive charge which covers the cost of an assessment by a registered needs assessor and a report made available to the student and the funding body. 

The purpose of the meeting is to identify specific areas of support required for effective study. The assessor will ask about previous patterns of learning, including any difficult areas and then go on to enquire about the demands of studying in higher education. It is the assessor’s role to identify the type of assistive technology and support that is required for a particular course of study. Hardware and software will be available for trial during the assessment; the meeting itself usually lasts for up to two hours.

Subsequently the assessor produces a report which details the recommendations for assistance and support identified during the assessment. A copy of the report along with quotations from approved suppliers is made available to the student as well as the funding body. The target period for the provision of reports is ten working days. All provision is subject to agreement by the funding body, this can include: a contribution towards travel costs, assistive technology and software. The allowances are not means tested – they are not dependent on income – and they do not form the basis of a loan; as long as the course is taken up, they do not have to be repaid.

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