Asthma and Disabled Student Allowance - advice please


I post and read very occasionally, but some information has come to my attention and I was wondering if any of you know more about this and can advise me.

Firstly I had better let you all know where I have been over the past few months. Sadly 19 months ago my husband passed away very unexpectedly. I have been slowly rebuilding my life which has included my return to studying hence my query.

Yesterday I attended the induction day for my forth coming PGCE course. The folk from the university came along to talk about disabled students allowance and mentioned that people with asthma can apply. However, as is usually the case with the student finance web site there is insufficient information! So I was wondering if any one out there had applied for this - either for themselves or their children.

My asthma is bad but I am fortunate that I have an excellent GP and chest physician who between them have brought it under control nearly 2 years ago.

If anyone has applied for this could you let me know if it was financially worth the trouble. I don't wish to sound money grabbing or uninterested but I am also trying to finish my degree course! So as you can appreciate my time is precious.

Many thanks for your help - in advance


1 Reply

  • DSA does not give you any money directly. It pays directly to the university (who may outsource to external suppliers) for equipment and non-medical helper support to give you equal access to your course as non-disabled students.

    I get DSA as I have a range of disabilities and health conditions in addition to my asthma. It provides me with things like a specialist computer with adaptive technology and has paid for some adaptation to my student accommodation. The main cost it provides for is my non-medical helpers. It pays for additional tutor time as it physically takes me longer to process and complete tasks and also pays for a mentor who can help me liaise with others, keep my work on track and generally keep an eye on me. I'm also allowed to claim for taxi travel if I'm unable to use public transport, but I haven't done so as if I'm too unwell to manage public transport, I'm really too unwell to be going into college.

    When you apply for DSA you have to have an Assessment of Needs (AoN). The AoN details your particular needs arising from your disability which cause significant disadvantage over and above other students. It also details how these could be met using technology or human support and the costings of these provisions.

    For me, the help (particularly non-medical support workers) has been invaluable and has allowed me to continue on my course. The most important thing is that it says to others that there are these issues which need to be responded to.

    In deciding whether to apply, you need to take advice from the Disability Support people at the university. As a post-grad the DSA you would be entitled to (unless externally funded) is far less than for an under-grad. It wouldn't, for instance, provide much long-term human support. Additionally, there are particular restrictions for certain professional courses in that you have to show that you are competent to do the job you are training for. I know this applies for some medical courses - I don't know about teaching.

    You need to look at what your additional needs are over and above other students and consider how these could be addressed. Even if you decide not to apply for DSA, it may be worth contacting your Disability Support Office if you asthma is likely to cause significant issues so that they are aware. They may be able to help, for instance, in negotiating support in using the library, extended library loans, awareness training for staff etc.

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