Sources of Funding
UK disabled students can obtain extra funding to provide equipment and support while studying in post-16 education in the UK. This funding, (the Disabled Students’ Allowances or DSA) also covers the cost of an Assessment Centre assessment. This page contains summary information of the different sources of funding available.
For specialist, up-to-date advice, talk to the disability officer at your college or university, or speak to your funding body. Check for up-to-date information before making any decisions.
Where does the funding come from?
Students in further education can often obtain funding through their college. Ask your tutors or study advisors for more information.
UK Undergraduate and Postgraduate taught students (both full and part time) can often receive funding through the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) from their funding body (Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, Student Finance Northern Ireland, Student Awards Agency for Scotland, NHS or Research Councils. To find out about the DSAs, please visit this website: https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas
Postgraduate students may also obtain additional funding through the relevant Research Council. Please contact your Assessment Centre or Disability Adviser for more information. Further information about the Research Council DSAs can be found here: https://www.ukri.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/UKRI-031120-DSA-Framework-February-2020.pdf However, you should contact your University Disability Adviser in the first instance, as you cannot apply directly to the Research Council for your DSA and this is processed by the University.
Postgraduate research students may be able to receive some support if undertaking paid employment, through the Access To Work Scheme. Contact the Disability Employment Adviser in your local job centre. You might also contact your funding body to discuss eligibility for funding through the postgraduate DSA scheme.
NHS-funded students may be eligible for additional support from the NHS Bursaries Office. Contact the Bursaries Office for more information. https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/2019-11/Disabled%20Students%20Allowances%20%28DSAs%29%202019-20%20%28V2%29%2011%202019.pdf
International Students may be able to receive some financial support from the British Council. This support is not guaranteed and applicants should also find out about available funding in their country before beginning studies in the UK.
Your institution (or the institution you hope to study at) might have systems in place to help support students who do not receive funding from other sources, but you cannot assume this is the case. Contact the Disabilities Office or Student Services Department for more information.
Who is eligible for support?
Typically, as a UK student, you could be eligible for additional support from the Disabled Students’ Allowances if
- You are dyslexic or have ‘specific learning difficulties’,
- You are blind or visually impaired,
- You are deaf or hard of hearing,
- You have mobility difficulties or use a wheelchair for mobility,
- You have a long-term medical condition which causes stamina, concentration, mobility or dexterity difficulties,
- You have mental health difficulties,
- You have autism or Autistic Spectrum Condition,
- You have another condition which affects your ability to participate in studying.
If you do not think any of these categories apply to, contact your disability officer, funding body or local Assessment centre for advice.
How do I apply for the DSA?
You will need to have clear documentary evidence that a disability or other long-term condition exists and this will usually need to have been produced quite recently. Ask your funding body about the type of evidence they need from you.
You should complete a DSA application form and provide a copy of this evidence to the relevant department in your funding body. They will then confirm your eligibility for the DSA and will ask you to attend a Needs Assessment at a registered Assessment Centre. .Before you arrange an Assessment Centre assessment, you need to have confirmation from your funding body that they agree for you to have a Needs Assessment/Study Aids and Strategies Assessment at an Assessment Centre (some will automatically refer you to an Assessment Centre). When you have this confirmation, contact your nearest (or preferred) Assessment Centre and arrange for an assessment.
We suggest you seek the advice of your college/university Disabilities Office before beginning an application for Disabled Students Allowances. However, if you are concerned about confidentiality (i.e. you didn’t want to tell the college/university about your disability) then you do not need to do so. You may instead want to consider discussing your application with your funding body or local Assessment Centre.
Funding for daily living costs while studying
Some students may be able to receive income support or other benefits while studying, for example, to cover any costs in arranging for personal assistance to help with daily living tasks or personal care. These are often costs that you might incur whether you are studying or not and cannot therefore be covered via the DSA. The DSAs are designed to cover study-related costs only.
It is very important that you get independent advice if you need this support. Student welfare advisers in the university or college often have a wealth of experience and will be happy to advise you, even if you have not yet made an application to study there.
You may also find relevant information here: https://www.gov.uk/financial-help-disabled .
Covering additional costs and exceptional circumstances
Higher Education Institutions have funds available to help cover additional costs incurred through “exceptional circumstances” while studying. This could include the cost of obtaining a diagnosis for dyslexia or other disability-related costs that cannot be reimbursed through DSA. These funds are limited and often only available at certain times of the year.
You must meet the particular criteria set by your institution for eligibility to obtain funding from these allowances. Your Disability Officer, Student Services Officers, Welfare Advisers or Student Union officers can give you more advice and help you to prepare an application.