National disability charities, AbilityNet and RNIB have launched a campaign urging students to claim the DSA, here Hayley Clark from AbilityNet explains why.
It’s a well know fact that young people want to fit in and not stand out from the crowd. This reluctance to get noticed – or at least to attract the ‘wrong’ kind of attention – is probably one of the main contributors to the low level of students – a mere 7.3 per cent of applicants – identifying themselves as disabled on their UCAS forms.
Once they’re accepted on a course and can stop worrying that their disability might somehow prejudice their application, more students are ready to come forward and ask for help.
Some 45,000 students in HE are currently claiming the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA), which accounts for about 11 per cent of the total student intake (2012/13) of 407,000.
With an estimated 18 per cent rate of disability amongst the population in general though, it is likely that many students who are eligible for the allowance have yet to claim it.
This may be due to a continued reluctance to differentiate themselves from their cohort, or simply because they don’t know that the allowance exists and that they might be eligible for it.
DSAs are available to any UK University student with a disability, on-going health condition, sensory impairment, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, which may impede their ability to study.
One of the last bastions of student finance – that is non-means tested and ‘given’ rather than ‘loaned’ – the DSA is most definitely worth having.
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