Government reform of the Disabled Students’ Allowance system now means that recipients face having to pay £200 towards the cost of a computer and assistive software that they need for disability-related reasons. This has resulted in the number of recipients of Disabled Students’ Allowance funded equipment falling by 4,600.
This fall occurred between 2014-15 and 2015-16 when the new rules were introduced. The Labour shadow minster for disabled people had commented that the number of students receiving Disabled Students’ Allowance for computer equipment had fallen by almost 30% since the £200 up-front fee was introduced. The Minister replied that the fall did not mean they were lacking equipment, as computer ownership is now common amongst all students.
“Forcing disabled students out of education”
Piers Wilkinson, from the National Union of Students’ Disabled Students’ Campaign, said they had “consistently opposed” the Disabled Students’ Allowance reforms, because the union believed they would “not only put us at a greater disadvantage in accessing education but also force disabled students out of education”.
“A laptop can be a vital piece of equipment; this £200 charge is causing hundreds of vital laptops to be locked away from the student, even after the assistive technology software and hardware has been paid for.
“This charge is making disabled students choose between having food to eat or having the equipment essential for them to study for their £9,000-a-year course.
“So disabled students are left in a paradoxical limbo, unable to study because they can’t afford the £200 charge and unable to afford the charge because they are a disabled student.
“The Equality Act 2010 clearly states that a disabled person cannot be asked to pay for disability adjustments, and yet our government has been charging disabled students £200 for the