There are higher education students in England who are given financial assistance in the form of the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA). The rule for an individual to be eligible for this kind of assistance stipulates that the person needs to be dealing with any of the following:
- a mental health problem
- a learning difficulty
- a long-term physical disability
The applicant also needs to be already eligible for standard student finance. The amount of financial assistance given as part of the DSA will depend on the exact needs of the individual in regards to their studies. In order to determine these needs it is usual for the applicant to visit an approved assessment centre.
DSA QAG Approved Assessment Centres
The Quality Assessment Group (QAG) was created by the Department of Education and Skills (now known as the Department of Business Innovation and Skills). This committee was tasked with developing a Quality Assurance Framework that would ensure that there would be competant assessment centres across the country where those seeking DSA could be adequately assessed. The DSA QAG Approved assessment centres meet the criteria of this framework, and this means that applicants for the DSA can use these centres as part of their application process.
Aim of DSA QAG Needs Assessment
The purpose of DSA QAG needs assessment is to determine the needs of the individual in relation to their course of study. When the person arrives at the assessment centre they will meet with an assessor, and they will discuss their current situation and how this will impact their ability to meet the demands of the course. This interview usually lasts a couple of hours. The assessor is then able to produce a report based on this assessment that can then be sent to the funding body.
Once an applicant has been advised that they will be eligible for the DSA (by their funding body), they will need to arrange for an assessment. The full process can take up to 14 weeks, so it is recommended that students do not waste too much time before arranging their assessment. The applicant will usually be given a choice of times, so they can come in for their assessment when it is most convenient. It may sometimes be necessary to contact a number of different centres to find one that is able to offer an appointment at a suitable time. The applicant can choose to use any approved assessment centre they wish, so this provides them with a good bit of flexibility.
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