Bangor student leaders mount protest against disabled student grant changes

Published date: 19 June 2014 |
Published by: Geraint Jones 
Read more articles by Geraint Jones  Email reporter


 

BANGOR student leaders have mounted a protest against cuts to disabled students’ grants.

Anthony Butcher and Rhys Taylor, of Bangor University Student’s Union, called changes to the Disability Students Allowance (DSA).

Mr Taylor said: “We believe these cuts are not a modernisation, as the Minister for Universities claims, but financially motivated cuts which are not based on the needs of students.

“These cuts may have damaging affects for students who are not only entitled to DSA, but are reliant on the funding to access education.

“Research has shown that students receiving DSA are more likely to reach a first or upper class second honours degree than disabled students who do not receive an allowance, and we should be doing all that we can to make education open and accessible and assist students who require additional support.”

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) are non-repayable grants that assist with the additional costs that disabled students incur in further education.

David Willetts, UK Government Minister for Universities, announced a number of changes to the DSA system to parliament earlier this year.

Students with specific learning difficulties will still receive support their support needs “are considered to be more complex.”

Specialist accommodation costs will now only be met by DSAs in “exceptional circumstances.”

Hywel Williams, MP for Arfon, feared those receiving help with accommodation, learning mentors and specialist IT equipment, will be forced to fund their own support package.

He added: “Nearly everyone is facing cuts, but the Westminster Government seem determined to punish the most vulnerable, bringing in damaging policies regardless of their impact.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills the reforms aimed to “balance responsibility” between the UK Government and higher educations, which have legal duties under the Equality Act.

He added: “ The system remains demand-led, and the decision as to the extent and form that support takes will continue to be led by the independent study needs assessors.

“We are working closely with stakeholder groups to develop the guidance as to what higher education institutions can reasonably provide, and what will continue to be provided through Disabled Students’ Allowance."

For Mr Willet’s full statement, visit www.gov.uk/government/speeches/higher-education-student-support-changes-to-disabled-students-allowances-dsa.


 

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