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Posts in chronological order.

April 8th 2014.
On April 7th 2014, David Willetts MP submitted this written Ministerial Statement.

Stating "The current arrangements do not recognise technological advances, increases in use of technology or the introduction of the Equality Act 2010. It has been almost 25 years since the DSA scheme was reviewed, unlike other areas of student support. "

This policy decision is expanded upon in this Student Support Information Note SSIN 01/15 April 2015 submitted by Paul Higgs, Higher Education Student Funding Policy, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and published on the SLC site.

This states:-

"Almost all students now own or have access to a computer (96% of students own a laptop or net book – Endsleigh, August 2013)." so "funding will no longer be provided for standard specification computers, software, and associated peripherals.".


"DSA funding will no longer be provided for non-specialist non-medical help (NMH) support." It goes on to state that "DSA will continue to fund the most specialist Non-Medical Help (i.e. as outlined in the SLC NMH manual bands three and four, and specialist roles)." The Non-Medical Help Services Reference Manual can be found on this area of the SLC site.

This suggests that the following support will no longer be funded through DSA, as these are classed as Band 1 and Band 2 (according to this manual):-


Anyway this appears to be a car crash but let's see how it all pans out .....

The Times Higher Education April 7th 2014: David Willetts is “arrogant and out of touch” in seeking “unfair” cuts to disabled students’ funding, according to the National Union of Students.

The Independent April 9th 2014: Universities minister criticised for 'deeply unfair' cuts to disability funding.

NUS are very critical of David Willetts. Wonder if they've noticed a "statistic" from an established student insurance firm is being used to justify these cuts?

April 11th 2014.
Questions raised about the data apparently being used to justify cuts in computer provision to disabled students.
The statement "Almost all students now own or have access to a computer (96% of students own a laptop or net book – Endsleigh, August 2013)." so "funding will no longer be provided for standard specification computers, software, and associated peripherals." has been subject to particular scrutinity.

This figure was obtained by an NUS poll, see

"The survey was conducted online during April/May 2013 " 1704 students responded to the survey.

According to HESA there were  2,340,275 undergrads and postgrads registered for the 2012/3 academic year when the survey was carried out. This would mean that 0.072% of registered students took part in the survey.

May 14th 2014.

David Willetts appears on BBC Radio 4 In Touch. He defends these changes by saying "most young people" now own a computer. Therefore by his logic all disabled people who wish to attend university have to be young people who already own a computer. He also appears to be saying that the investment in computer labs for universities will also be reviewed  as "all young people own a computer", so they can't just discriminate against disabled people who struggle to spend time in the computer labs. I bet the big IT computer lobbyist will love that.

June 6 2014

The debate about the planned changes to DSA funding continues. As the dust settles it is becoming increasingly clear that there are no evidence-based arguments being presented, which is very surprising given Willetts so-called 'two-brained' status. The only logical reason behind these proposed changes is that those with long-held views that dyslexic students shouldn't be eligible for DSA funding have finally managed to bend the ministers ear, but realise they can't just pick on dyslexic students.

It's clear that there has been some pretty creative interpretations of the primary legislation when it comes to students with specific learning difficulties and this should be addressed, but this shouldn't mean students with physical/sensory disabilities, chronic health conditions, mental health difficulties and/or autistic spectrum disorders should suffer. The DSA is one of Thatcher's few remaining legacies the Tories should be proud of.

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