DSA NEW * Latest news regarding HEI students

DSA reforms for England: government announcement  Dec 2015

The Minister of State for Universities and Science has announced reforms to Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) in England following the recent consultation. Here’s a summary of the changes, and the Student Loans Company’s expectations of higher education providers (HEPs):

  • DSAs will fund Sighted Guides for students who need support to get around campus. HEPs are expected to take responsibility for the other non-medical support roles classified as bands 1 or 2 in the Student Loans Company non-medical help (NMH) manual. Also, HEPs are expected to consider how they deliver information to students and whether strategies can be put in place to reduce the need for support workers and encourage greater independence and autonomy for their disabled students.
  • DSAs will fund the most specialist non-medical help support, as set out in the NMH manual under bands 3 and 4, except for Specialist Transcription Services. HEPs are expected to take primary responsibility for providing Specialist Transcription Services, other than by exception.
  • DSAs will meet the additional costs of accommodation where that accommodation isn’t provided by the HEP or its agent. If that specialist accommodation is provided by the HEP or their agent, DSAs won’t be available, other than by exception. HEPs should no longer pass any additional costs for accommodation onto the student.
  • DSAs will fund devices for printing and scanning, but HEPs are expected to strive to meet the needs of their disabled students to reduce the need for the purchase of individual devices for printing and scanning. Individual devices will only be funded if the need cannot be met through other measures.
  • DSAs will not fund standard computer peripherals and other accessories, other than by exception. Laptop carry cases will continue to be provided as standard to help students protect their equipment.

Here’s the government’s written statement: www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2015-12-02/HCWS347.

Here’s the consultation outcome: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/disabled-students-in-higher-education-funding-proposals.

DSA changes for Wales: consultation  Dec  2015

Following the consultation about proposed changes to Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) in Wales, the Welsh Government has decided not to introduce any of the proposed changes for the 2016/17 academic year.

Instead, the Welsh Government will invite individuals to take part in a public consultation on proposals for improving the DSA policy and process in Wales from the 2017/18 academic year onwards. Read on here: www.studentfinancewales.co.uk/media/195156/sfwin-04-2015-update-on-dsas-policy-review-ay-2016-17.pdf.

HEFCE reports July 2015

These two reports on students with with SpLD and with mental health came out in July.   Section 7 of SpLD Report: Measuring Effectiveness is a good place to start.  The report acknowledges the difficulty of doing this and recommends the need for further research.  It doesn’t take a crystal ball to guess that, a) BIS and SLC will want to measure effectiveness and b) will not have time to commission further research before pressing ahead with changes to DSA. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/sas/inequality/disabled/

Using technology to support dyslexic students

For those of you looking at introducing accessible learning and teaching, Jisc has published a timely overview of how you can use technology – including free and open source software – to support dyslexic students’ learning. Read on here: www.jisc.ac.uk/blog/how-technology-can-help-dyslexic-learners-help-themselves-05-nov-2015.
Earlier this year Jisc also updated its guide for institutions on supporting learners with dyslexia, which includes advice about techniques and technology, as well as case studies. Read it here: www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/meeting-the-requirements-of-learners-with-special-educational-needs/dyslexia.

Competence standards and reasonable adjustments: guidance

ECU (Equality Challenge Unit) has produced new guidance about competence standards – the level of competence or ability that a student must demonstrate to be accepted on to, progress within, and successfully complete a course or programme of study. Higher education providers have responsibility for developing non-discriminatory competence standards, and designing a study programme to address these competence standards.

Government reforms to higher education: green paper

The UK government has published its green paper outlining proposed reforms to the higher education sector, and has also opened a consultation about the reforms. Most of the proposed reforms apply to England only.
Here are the main areas of proposed reform:

Introducing a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF): this is to help measure teaching quality so that students can make more informed choices about the courses they undertake, and employers can identify and recruit the right graduates. Higher education providers will be able to increase tuition fees according to teaching excellence performance. For the first year, institutions that meet the current quality assurance threshold will automatically pass at “level 1” – meaning they can raise fees along with inflation from 2017. As the TEF develops there will be four levels, and the higher level achieved, the higher the “fee cap” universities will be allowed to charge.

The Office for Students (OfS) will replace HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) and OFFA (Office For Fair Access): this new body will have wide powers over access, teaching, quality, data, regulation, market gateway, as well as (possibly) the responsibility to hand out the rest of the teaching grant, and maybe even the power to validate degrees. Its focus and duties will be to students rather than providers. This body will funded by subscriptions from universities.

Disabled Students’ Allowances: Lords debate

Earlier this week Lord Addington opened a debate in the House of Lords about UK government plans to change Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs).

SASC publishes updated guidance on the Report Proforma and Review Criteria for Assessor Reports

In order to bring practice up to date, following a review and recommendations from the bodies awarding Assessment Practising Certificates, SASC has updated the guidance on our report proforma, the proforma and the criteria for reviewing assessor reports. Revised guidance on both these areas, and an updated report proforma [issued 19 October 2015] are downloadable from the SASC website. Please circulate this information to all your networks.  See SpLD Assessment Page on this SASC website: available from the Downloads page (bottom link) Downloads

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