BIS 15/16 DSA draft guidance

17 October 2014



The Government is determined that anyone with the aspiration and ability can go onto higher education regardless of any disability.

It is important that as wide a consensus as possible is built on the role of Disabled Students' Allowances. The Government has been consulting on the draft Disabled Students' Allowances guidance for 2015/16. It has now decided that the proposed changes set out in the draft guidance concerning accommodation, peripherals and consumables - that would have required additional reasonable adjustments from institutions - should be deferred until 2016/17 and that changes will only be made once continued consultation with the sector and stakeholders has taken place to ensure the specific changes are introduced effectively.

Although the Government has exceptionally been consulting upon (and as indicated above will further consult upon) these specific proposals, it remains the case that Disabled Students' Allowances guidance is a Student Loans Company operational document that is revised on a year to year basis and is not generally subject to consultation before it is amended.

The Government has been in regular contact with stakeholders, including higher education institutions, regarding these measures. Deferring these proposed changes until 2016/17 will help give institutions the time to review the services they offer to disabled students and make appropriate improvements to meet their needs. The annual guidance for study needs assessors, setting out the approach to managing applications for Disabled Students' Allowances for 2015/16, will be published in due course.

We are grateful to universities, student and their representative bodies for their continued participation in informing these changes.

BIS has written an email to Higher Education Institutions and other stakeholders setting out more information about the process - the letter can be viewed at below link.

BIS letter


The period for providing comments on the draft guidance for 2015/2016 has now closed.  We will take into account the views of stakeholders and the equality analysis that is being conducted before any decision to issue formal guidance for 2015/2016 is taken.

AY 15/16 Guidance document

We recently concluded the process of seeking comments from stakeholders on the draft 2015/16 Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) guidance. However it has recently been drawn to our attention that, when updated wording was posted on the practitioners’ page on the SLC website explaining the information and comments we were seeking, the news page on the website was not updated in the same way and unfortunately continued to show outdated wording. We apologise for this unfortunate error.

To ensure that stakeholders have had the correct information to enable them to provide their views or comments on the draft guidance we are now re-opening the opportunity to comment on the draft guidance until 20 February 2015. Stakeholders should send any comments to can access the draft guidance by using the following link AY 15/16 Guidance document

The text that should have appeared on the news page is set out below.

Following the ministerial announcement on 12 September 2014 and the subsequent regulations which were laid before Parliament on 16 October 2014 (“the Education (Student Support) (Amendment) Regulations 2014), a number of changes to DSA are being proposed. It is intended that the proposed changes would take effect in the 2015/16 academic year. As regards Non-Medical Help changes, these will not apply until 2016/17 and there will be further stakeholder engagement during 2015 in relation to these changes.

The attached draft guidance sets out the background and scope of DSA and also includes guidance on how the Secretary of State proposes to exercise his discretion to pay DSA. The main changes that are proposed to take effect in 2015/16 and which are reflected in the guidance concern the payment of DSA in respect of accommodation and additional items, such as consumables and peripherals. The introduction of the £200 student contribution towards the cost of a computer provided through DSA has already been introduced for 2015/16 in the new amendment regulations. BIS is seeking the views of stakeholders on the draft guidance and further equality analysis on the proposed changes is ongoing. Issues on which comments would be particularly welcome include:

  • providing suggestions on the content of the draft guidance;
  • information on problems that might arise from the implementation of the draft guidance in its current proposed form;
  • further exceptions to the general position outlined in the guidance for BIS to consider;
  • case studies for inclusion in the guidance document;
  • areas where further clarification of the guidance is needed; and;
  • any comments more generally on the guidance.

The Secretary of State will take into account the views of stakeholders and the equality analysis that is being conducted before any decision to issue formal guidance for 2015/2016 is taken.

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