Higher Education Student Support Services

Learning Support for Students in Higher Education

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs)

The Disabled Student's Allowances (DSA) are supplementary allowances available to students who may have extra expenses, as a direct result of their disability, arising from attending a higher education course. The allowances are meant to help disabled students benefit fully from their course; they are not means-tested.

There are four elements of DSA support:

  • Non-medical help: for students requiring non-medical personal assistance e.g. readers for blind students or sign-language interpreters for deaf students;
  • Specialist Equipment allowance: for help with the purchase of equipment necessary because of the student's disability e.g. computer, Braille printer, Dictaphone, Specialist Software etc.
  • General allowance: for general expenses arising from attendance at the course e.g. extra photocopying, special dietary requirements etc.
  • Travel allowance: extra travel costs you have to pay as a result of disability and not normally for everyday travel costs. You will have to pay the equivalent to the public transport rate towards your travel.

The maximum rates for students undertaking full-time undergraduate courses are:

Non-medical Personal Helper (per annum) £20,938
Specialist Equipment Allowance (whole course) £5,266
General Allowance (per annum) £1,759
Travel Allowance No upper limit

The maximum rates for students undertaking part-time undergraduate courses are:

Non-medical Personal Helper (per annum) £15,703
Specialist Equipment Allowance (whole course) £5,266
General Allowance (per annum) £1,319
Travel Allowance No upper limit

To apply, you must first make contact with the DSA officer at your Education and Library Board to determine your eligibility for Disabled Students' Allowances.

You should then contact the officer at your university or college who deals with student disabilities and/or learning disabilities (most institutions have a designated disabilities advisor). This person will make arrangements to assess your needs, arising from your disability, in following the course.

The application for DSA will then be made through your adviser to the Board. It must be supported by evidence of the disability (e.g. from a doctor or educational psychologist post-16 report), recommendations on the form of support needed and costs.

You can apply for Disabled Students' Allowances during the course as well as at the beginning and, in certain circumstances, your application can be considered before you start the course. DSA is paid directly from your Education and Library Board to you or to the supplier of specialist services. You do not have to repay this help.

For further advice and information please contact the DSA Officer at your ELB.

You can apply for DSA if you have a:

  • Physical Disability
  • Medical Condition
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Autistic Spectrum Condition
  • Mental Health Issue
  • Visual Impairment
  • Deaf or hard of hearing

If you would like an informal chat about the DSA process, please contact the Student/Learning Support Officer at your campus. Below are their details:

Dungannon Campus
Caroline McCaffrey
Tel: 0845 603 1881 ext 3691
Email: caroline.mccaffrey@swc.ac.uk

Enniskillen Campus
Imelda Treacy
Tel: 0845 603 1881 ext 2225
Email: Imelda.treacy@swc.ac.uk

Omagh Campus
Judith McCusker
Tel: 0845 603 1881 ext 5226
Email : Judith.mccusker@swc.ac.uk

DSA Case Study

Alice* has mental health difficulties and receives financial support through the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) as a result.

As part of her condition, Alice experiences low concentration, poor motivation, low self-esteem and she is prone to panic attacks and as a result of medication, Alice often suffers from tiredness and sleeplessness, which can be exacerbated by stress and pressure.

This combination of issues was affecting Alice’s ability to focus on her higher education programme at the College and she was advised to contact her local Student Support Officer to talk about her health issues and the support services available at the College to assist her with her studies.

Alice was assigned with the help of a Study Skills Tutor, who works closely with Alice on appropriate approaches and strategies to facilitate effective study and learning. Together they work on note-taking, planning, organisational and research skills.

Alice also receives mentoring support from her Study Skills Tutor, which encourages continuity of study and self-esteem so that she can effectively cope with the demands of her course.

This tailored support service has enabled Alice to work independently at her own pace and she is on target for successful completion of her higher education programme.

* not real name