By Emily Furness and Amy Wall
Severe cuts to Disabled Student Allowances (DSA) is now resulting in students living with disabilities to struggle with life at university.
DSAs are a non means-tested financial help for disabled students studying within the UK. To receive DSA, students must prove they have a disability or long-term health condition, a mental health condition, or a specific learning disability such as dyslexia.
Disabled students have been heavily affected by cuts in the education and welfare sector. Many are worried that these cuts will jeopardize disabled students success in higher education.
Sebastian Lewis, film student from Falmouth University, suffers from cerebral palsy and receives a DSA allowance, he said: “I had to move house this year, as my one last year wasn’t very accessible, but because I get less DSA and my house costs so much more, my DSA allowance gets swallowed up by my rent. I’m just constantly skint.
I see a well-being mentor and this year our hours have been completely slashed. What was a big coping mechanism has almost disappeared.”
According to The National Union of Students 59% of disabled students are worried about not having enough money.
David Willets, minister of state for universities and science, claims that DSA has risen from £91.7 million to £125 million in recent years. However a drop of £5 million of funding failed to be mentioned by the minister in recent discussions, and the sharp incline of DSA recipients.
Recent statistics also show that there is a clear correlation between those students who receive DSA and those who achieve a 2:1 or first class degree grade.
The government are now moving their focus to ‘more complex needs’, without clear definition so far. Their plans exclude students with specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia and dyspraxia from financial support. However, the NUS are arguing that this is the largest group of students with a disability.
DSA is vital to ensure disabled students’ access to higher education, with some students hardly being able to afford basics such as transport and accommodation, due to the massive cuts to DSA allowance.