Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA)

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Home students

If you are a home student and have a disability, long-term health condition, mental-health condition or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, you may be eligible for extra help in the form of Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA).

These funds help pay for support and equipment to assist you with your studies and they don't have to be paid back. The scheme is open to full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate home students.

For full information about what DSA can pay for, who is eligible to apply, what evidence you will need to provide, how much you can get and how the application process works, visit the gov.uk website or contact the DDS team for advice.

NHS Bursary students

If you are a nursing or midwifery student and have a NHS Bursary you can apply for DSA through the NHS Business Services Authority (through your online BOSS account). For more information, see the NHS website.

If you are seconded by your employer

If you have been seconded by your employer to do an NHS funded course, the NHS won’t be responsible for your DSA. However, you may still be able to apply for DSA from Student Finance England. When you contact them to request an application for DSA you should explain that you are a seconded student, and that you are not eligible for the DSA through the NHS Bursary scheme. Contact Student Finance England

Remember, we’re here to help!

Disability advisers can answer your questions and assist you with your application at every stage. You can contact us to find out more or book an appointment by using your MyAccount or visit the Student Life Centre if on campus.

Top tips for DSA

  • You should apply for DSA as soon as possible. It takes, on average, over 10 weeks from applying to getting support.
  • Remember photocopies of disability evidence are accepted - you don’t need to send originals.
  • If you’ve applied for DSA and been told to book your assessment appointment, book it as soon as possible. As soon as you’ve had your assessment you can get your equipment in place, ready for the start of term.

Quick guide to how it works

  1. Gather evidence
    You will need written proof of your disability, specific learning difficulty, mental health or a long term medical condition (see Evidence section below for more information)
  2. Fill in an application form
    Your completed form is returned to the funder (e.g. SFE or NHS) along with evidence. If you’re not sure who your funding body is, or which application to complete, contact us using your MyAccount to 'ask a question' or visiting the Student Life Centre if on campus.
  3. Attend a needs assessment
    Your funder will then write to you requesting you book a study needs assessment with a link to search your nearest assessment centre alphabetically or by postcode. Find an assessment centre. At the assessment, the assessor discusses the content of your course, the impact of your condition, and your individual study needs. LSBU offers an outreach needs assessment service which takes place at the Southwark campus. You can simply book a needs assessment through your MyAccount or visit the Student Life Centre if on campus.
  4. Assessment of needs report
    The assessor produces a report with recommendations for support and sends a copy to the funder, you, and LSBU (if you’ve agreed for us to see it).
  5. Notification of support
    The funder then writes to you informing you of the support they have agreed and how to access it – LSBU can help you arrange the support you've been recommended.
  6. Get support and enjoy your studies!
    If at any stage you’re not sure what to do, or if you haven’t heard about your DSA application for a couple of weeks, just get in touch with us and we can help.

Continuing students (or, do I have to apply every year?)

Student Finance England, (i.e - you have a student loan)

If you are a full-time, undergraduate student and have core SFE funding (e.g. tuition fee loan and maintenance loan), you don’t have to reapply for DSA every year – by reapplying for your core funding, your DSA will also continue.

If you only receive DSA from SFE (e.g. you are a part-time, postgraduate, or sponsored/seconded student), you do need to reapply for DSA each year – you will need to complete the full DSA form, although you don’t need to send off any evidence again. Please feel free to contact DDS for help reapplying for DSA.

NHS Bursary

If you receive an NHS bursary, you don’t have to apply for DSA every year – by reapplying for your bursary, your DSA will also continue.

Evidence for DSA

The kind of evidence that you need to apply for DSA is set by your funding body (SFE/NHS). The funding body determines whether an award will be made based on the evidence provided.  

Here is some guidance on what the funding body expects from such a letter:

The person must have a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010. A person is disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities (‘substantial’ is more than minor or trivial - eg it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task ‘long-term’ means 12 months or more).

The letter should be on headed paper, dated and signed, and include:

  • What the condition is (diagnosis)
  • When it was first diagnosed
  • Whether it is likely to last for at least 12 months
  • Does any medication prescribed have side effects which may impact on learning
  • Any other information that you think might help assess appropriate support for  the student
  • State the impact (or potential impact) on day-to-day activities/studies.

Non-medical helper support

Study skills tuition

Study skills tuition is non-subject specific study skills support which takes place regularly on a one-to-one basis with a qualified tutor. It is usually funded by DSA (Disabled Students’ Allowances).

If you have been recommended a study skills tutor in your needs assessment report, we can arrange this support for you by matching you with a tutor. Please use your MyAccount to make contact with a disability advisor, who can help you with this.

A short introduction to study skills tuition

If you have a specific learning difficulty (SpLD), or another condition that affects your study skills, then non-subject specific, one to one study skills support may help you to develop coping strategies, manage your course more efficiently and become a more effective and independent learner.

Topics might include:

  • time management and organisational skills
  • efficient strategies for reading academic texts
  • note taking from texts, hand-outs and in lectures
  • research skills
  • mind mapping and planning techniques
  • proof reading strategies
  • approaching written assignments
  • memory techniques and strategies
  • revision methods
  • analysing exam/essay questions.

A study skills tutor can help you to understand your individual learning style and identify your strengths as well as areas you find more difficult.

If you would like help arranging a tutor, or would like to discuss tuition with a disability adviser, please feel free to contact us using your MyAccount or visit the Student Life Centre if on campus.

Specialist mentoring

Mentoring is regular one-to-one support with an experienced mental health professional. It aims to help you move towards working independently and it is usually funded by DSA (Disabled Students’ Allowances).

If you have been recommended a mentor in your needs assessment report, we can arrange this support for you by matching you with a mentor.  You can request a mentor by completing and returning this form to DDS.

A short introduction to mentor support

The purpose of mentoring support is to enable you to become more independent, feel more confident with your work and have a better university experience. You and your mentor would meet for usually an hour a week and the mentor provides a supportive and reflective space that is also practical and motivating.

Mentoring aims to provide support which facilitates competence in self-management of a mental health difficulty or other chronic condition. Mentors can help students to:

  • develop and maintain more realistic study patterns,
  • enhance their ability to overcome barriers to success, and thereby providing them with a more equal chance of achieving academic and personal goals. 

Mentors can also provide support with:

  • timetabling
  • goal-setting
  • and managing self-imposed expectations about appropriate levels of study.

Mentors will work closely with you to develop strategies to maximise your independent skills.  

If you would like help arranging a mentor, or would like to discuss mentoring with a disability adviser, please feel free to contact us using your MyAccount or visit the Student Life Centre if on campus. 

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