Government to review DSA assessments for students with specific learning difficulties

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The UK Government is to review the way in which students with specific learning disabilities (SpLD) are assessed for disability students’ allowance (DSA) after Lord Addington raised concerns about it in the House of Lords.

Lord Addington, president of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), asked the Government why dyslexic students should have to pay as much as £600 for a reassessment for DSA when other disabled students only require a doctor’s letter.

Lord Agnew of Oulton, replying, said:

My Lords, all students are required to prove their eligibility for disabled students’ allowances.This applies to all students, including those with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia. DSA funding is not available to any student to pay for evidence to establish eligibility. DSAs continue to provide funding for eligible dyslexic higher education students to access IT equipment as well as software and other support.

Peers remained unconvinced, however. They pointed out that most students with SpLD had already been diagnosed with and received extra support for their conditions while at school. Why, they asked, did they therefore need to be reassessed before going on to higher education.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said:

I do not understand why people with dyslexia have to go through what essentially is a second assessment which they have to pay for—which, as he [Lord Addington] said, costs hundreds of pounds—when for other students with other disabilities a letter from their doctor will be enough to process them through the allowance. Why are people with dyslexia discriminated against?

Lord Agnew said the procedure had been adopted because the transition into higher education was thought to warrant a more adult-based assessment.

After further questioning, however, he agreed with Lord Addington that a review was ‘well overdue’.

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