What is DSA and who is eligible ?

The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) can help with additional costs disabled students may incur in attending their course as a direct result of a disability such as a physical disability, a mental health difficulty, long term illness or a specific learning difference such as dyslexia.

How to apply?

For more information and to download the application form visit  or For support completing the form contact your Funding Body or the disability team at your university.

Depending on your needs, support from the DSA could include specialist equipment, a non-medical helpers allowance, help towards the additional costs of travelling to your institution and a general allowance.

If you are a student at the University of Northampton, find out more from ASSIST.

What is a DSA Needs Assessment?

Disabled Students Allowances (DSA) Needs Assessment, also called a ‘Study Needs Assessment’ is a one to one confidential discussion between you and a trained specialist assessor to identify your learning support needs.

Your assessor then writes a comprehensive and detailed report that makes formal recommendations to your Funding Body (such as the SFE or NHS) and Institution as to how these needs should be met.  This will include recommendations and quotations for support and equipment to be provided through the DSAs. Your Needs Assessment Report (NAR) will then be sent to your Funding Body for approval and you will also receive a copy.

Our assessment fee includes the additional needs with which you may present, any activities undertaken by the assessor or centre to review your DSA support (for the duration of your original course) and liaison with funding bodies, equipment suppliers, HEIs or other stakeholders for the purpose of review of your support needs.  This fee is charged to your funding body.

What happens during a DSA needs assessment?

During your assessment your assessor will demonstrate and allow you to evaluate software, specialist equipment and technology to determine the best possible solutions to help overcome any difficulties you may experience. The assessor may also discuss and recommend other types of support for example confidential mentoring or mental health support, specialist tutoring to assist with assignments and assistive technology training.

Some examples of how DSA can help to support you in your studies:

  • purchase computer equipment to help with your course
  • provide a specialist tutor to assist with assignments
  • offer one to one confidential mentoring or mental health support
  • provide assistive software to support your studying
  • contribute to costs such as photocopying and ink cartridges
  • assist with travel costs arising as a result of a disability

Consent for Sensitive Personal Data Processing

At the end of your assessment you will be asked to sign the following declaration giving consent for your personal data to be processed for the purposes of the DSA-QAG audit that all centres have annually.

In addition to the normal data processing carried out by the Needs Assessment Centre (NAC), “the centre” may wish to transfer a copy of your needs assessment report, or other relevant information contained within your student record, to the Disabled Students Allowance Quality Assurance Group (“the auditor”) so that the auditor can audit the centre’s internal processes for dealing with needs assessments.  These audits play an important part of ensuring that the centre is complying with all relevant legislation, internal and external guidance.  Such compliance is vital to the centre so it can properly assess the needs of those that require assistance.

The information that the centre is proposing to transfer to the auditor is a copy of your completed Needs Assessment Report (NAR), or other relevant information contained within your student record.  As you will be aware, this includes the following information about you:

  • identity and age;
  • physical and/or mental health;
  • living arrangements;
  • higher education institution and course information.

This information includes personal data and sensitive personal data as defined under the Data Protection Act 1998.  As the proposed transfer includes sensitive personal data (in this instance, health information about you), we require your consent before we are legally permitted to provide the auditor with your information, if selected as a student sample.

The personal data provided to the auditor would only be processed for the specific purpose of carrying out the audit of the centre.  The data would not be retained by the auditor once the audit of the centre had been completed and accredited by DSA-QAG. This consent will be held by the centre for the duration of the audit process, alongside any other forms of consent you have provided to the centre in relation to other current data processing activities carried out by the centre in relation to your personal and sensitive personal data.

By signing this statement you are giving your consent to the transfer of the personal and sensitive personal data set out above from the centre to the auditor and to the processing of this data by the auditor, for the purpose described above.

What you will have to do after your assessment

Find out what you need to do after your assessment.

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