Funding and the DSA
Below you will find details about how to apply for the Disabled Students Allowance as well as Other Funding. Click on the links below for more info on each section. To download our 'Guide to the DSA', our 'Guide to Other Funding' or information for Non-Medical Helpers, click the links on the right.
- What is the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)?
- How do I apply?
- Confirmation of Eligibility for DSA
- What is a Study Needs Assessment?
- How do I book a Study Needs Assessment?
- The Needs Assessment Report
- Letter of Entitlement from your funding body
- How do I access support and funds from my DSA?
- Do I need to renew my DSA after the first year?
- Other Funding
- Information about Non-Medical Helpers for DSA Needs Assessors
- Information for Non-Medical Helpers working at SOAS
The DSA helps to pay for any extra costs or expenses that students incur while attending their course, that arise from their disability. These may include specialist equipment, non-medical helper support (eg: assistive technology training, study skills tuition, note-taking, mentoring), general expenses and travel costs. The allowance is not means-tested, it is not repayable, it does not affect benefits and there is no age limit. The funding is administered through Student Finance England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or other funding body, such as a research council.
This funding is for home (UK) students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, and full or part-time. EU students resident in the UK for more than 3 years may also be eligible. For more information about eligibility, guides and application forms visit www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas/how-to-claim or phone Student Finance England on 0300 100 0607 or textphone 0300 100 0622
- Full-time undergraduates who are also applying for core funding (ie: Fee Loan, Maintenance Loan etc) should use the short form DSASL
- Postgraduates, part-time students or undergraduates who are not applying for core funding should use the full form DSA1 which must be countersigned by SOAS
You will need to include medical evidence of your disability or, if you have a specific learning difficulty, a post-16 educational psychologist’s report. The postal address for returning applications is Student Finance England, PO Box 210, Darlington, DL1 9HJ.
Please contact the Disability Advisors if you would like help with your application.
Once you have submitted your DSA application you will receive a letter from Student Finance England confirming your eligibility for DSA and authorising you to go ahead with a Study Needs Assessment. You must take a copy of this letter and also your medical evidence or educational psychologist’s report to the appointment for the assessor to see. If you have received DSA before you should also take copies of previous assessments.
Study Needs Assessments are carried out by independent assessors who are managed by a Regional Assessment Centre.
During your assessment you will be asked about the difficulties you have encountered with your previous studies due to your disability, medical condition or specific learning difficulty. The assessor will also consider the particular demands of your course and try to anticipate any problems which may arise. Through this interview the assessor will draw up a series of recommendations for your support and detail the equipment, support workers, travel expenses, training and other strategies which are deemed necessary during your course.
To find a Needs Assessment Centre go to http://www.dsa-qag.org.uk/ for listings in Greater London and regionally. If you need help to make a booking please contact email@example.com or come to a disability drop-in.
After the appointment, the assessor will write up your recommendations in the form of a report, a copy of which is sent to you, to Student Finance England or other funder and (if you have consented) to the SOAS Disability Advisors. On average this takes two weeks but may be longer at busy times or if your report is complex. You will have the opportunity to read it and make any comments that you feel are necessary.
You should then receive a letter from Student Finance England or other funder confirming that they have received the report and approve the recommendations. This may take up to four weeks, but please let the SOAS Disability Office know if it is taking longer and we will contact the funding provider for you if you would like us to. Please ensure that you read the letter carefully and understand any stipulations they make. If the funding provider does not accept all of the recommendations you should contact the Assessment Centre for advice.
The letter from Student Finance England (or other funder) will give you instructions on how to arrange your support, purchase any equipment etc. If you require any help with this process, please contact the Disability Advisors at SOAS. We can help you to set up your ‘non-medical helper’ support, for example if you are entitled to the services of an AT trainer, tutor or mentor.
Please be aware that you need to keep invoices or receipts for any DSA General and Travel Allowance expenses that have been authorised (see your report for details: usually internet costs, photocopying, printer cartridges and books, or taxis) so you can submit claims to your funding provider for reimbursement during the year.
You can order equipment and have AT training before the start of your course, but you will have to repay the cost if you do not enrol. Other support can only be accessed after enrolment. If you wish to upgrade your equipment or use an alternative support provider you may contact your funding body to agree this, within the approved cost limits.
Do I need to renew my DSA after the first year?
You will need to reapply every year for DSA to continue receiving support such as general and travel allowances, non-medical helper support and, potentially, additional equipment.
- Full-time undergraduates reapplying for core funding (student loan, grant etc) just need to indicate on their loan application each year by ticking the box to say that they are also applying for DSA
- Everyone else should complete the full form DSA1 each year, but you don’t need to resubmit your evidence. This form needs to be countersigned by us.
If you have any queries about the DSA please ask for advice from the Disability Advisors at SOAS by phoning 020 7074 5018 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Disability Rights UK provide the following leaflets with advice on funding:
- Funding Higher Education for Disabled Students
- Funding from charitable trusts
- Postgraduate Education
SOAS has limited capacity to provide DSA non-medical helper support to our disabled students. From 2019/20 our in-house tutors will only be providing DSA Specialist One to One Study Skills tutoring to continuing students who have already started their support. Since 2018/19 we have no longer provided in-house DSA Specialist Mentoring. Needs Assessors should not include SOAS as an NMH provider in their recommendations for new DSA applicants.
Where an in-house service is not provided or we have insufficient capacity we work closely with specialist agencies to ensure that students receive consistent support and follow-up. Providers with whom we have established working practice include Equality Focus for MH Specialist Mentoring; NAS Services (The National Autistic Society) for AS Specialist Mentoring; Clear Links for Specialist One to One Study Skills Support and BITT Services for Assistive Technology Training.
SOAS is keen to establish effective working relationships with external Non-Medcal Helper (NMH) suppliers to ensure quality support provision for the benefit of students. This document outlines the key information that support workers should be made aware of when delivering support to our students. SOAS does not directly employ NMH support workers. Support workers on campus are employed through a variety of agencies, and must abide by the training and codes of practice provided by their agents. For more information, please click here (download .doc).