On 14th July 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions, on the subject of Disabled Students’ Allowances.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government which criteria they will use, under the proposed changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowance, to distinguish between the need for higher specification or higher cost computers where a student needs one by virtue of their disability, as opposed to a need because of the way in which a course is delivered.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The criteria for determining when Disabled Student Allowances (DSAs) will contribute to the cost of higher specification or higher cost computers will be set out in guidance that will be published alongside the appropriate regulations in the autumn. Support under DSAs will continue to be available if the need for a higher specification or higher cost computer is by virtue of the student’s disability, rather than how the course is being delivered by the Higher Education Institution (HEI). If access to a higher specification or higher cost computer is essential to all students on that course, regardless of whether they are disabled or not, then provision of such computers would be a matter for the HEI.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to ensure that disabled students do not suffer discrimination as a result of the proposed changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowance, due to Higher Education Institutions failing to make the necessary changes to courses to accommodate their needs.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: Higher education institutions are independent and autonomous organisations and are already subject to the strong legal requirements in the Equality Act 2010. They have clear duties to ensure that disabled students do not face discrimination whilst applying to, and studying in higher education. Where an individual believes they have been discriminated against and a dispute occurs, there are already well established processes in place for raising a formal complaint, initially through the university’s internal complaints procedure and then, if unresolved after completing that process, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).