- 13 June 2014
Earlier this year, the Government announced that the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) will be ‘modernised’ to target the limited public funding available to those most in need. This effectively means a cut, where DSAs will only be available ‘for higher specification or higher cost computers where a student needs one solely by virtue of their disability’.
Details are vague, but it’s likely that those with ‘less complex’ disabilities will lose out. From September 2015, students will no longer be able to use their DSA to get basic computers or specialist software, such as MathJax which assists those with vision impairments or learning disabilities to better display maths equations. There will also be less money to pay for non-medical support such as note takers or equipment like voice recorders, and it is likely that specialist accommodation costs won’t be met for most students.
This is extremely worrying, and a key concern for the STEM Disability Committee, for which the Society of Biology is a core member. It is vital that students with disabilities are not deterred from achieving an education due to financial concerns, especially when there is enabling technology and support available.
Rt Hon David Blunkett MP has proposed an Early Day Motion to address this, which asks for equal access to education and support for students with disabilities, and the Society of Biology is calling for people to ask their MPs to support it.
You can find out your MPs contact details via the Parliament website or contact them on Twitter. Please ask them to sign EDM 48 – Changes to Disabled Students Allowances so that all can have access to learning and so the biosciences grow into a diverse and inclusive community with the best and brightest minds.