Sources of Funding

Information about funding for specialist equipment and personal assistance while studying.

Many people with disabilities can obtain extra funding to provide equipment and support while studying in post-16 education in the UK. This funding also covers the cost of an Assessment Centre Assessment. This page contains summary information of the different sources of funding available.

For specialist, up-to-date advice talk to the disability officer at your college or university, or speak to your LA. You could also contact SKILL: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities or refer to their website for more funding information. The information provided here could become out of date or inaccurate, so check for up-to-date information before making any decisions.

Where does the funding come from?

Students in further education can often obtain funding through their college. Ask your tutors or study advisors for more information.

UK Undergraduate and Postgraduate taught students (both full and part time) can often receive funding through the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) from their Local Authority (LA). Open University (OU) students can also obtain this funding, but it is arranged by the OU. To find out about the DSA contact your Local Authority and refer to the DfES website. OU Students refer to the Open University for more information.

Postgraduate students may also obtain additional funding through the relevant Research Council. Please contact the student support staff at your relevant council for more information. Here is a list of UK Research Councils.

Postgraduate research students may be able to receive some support if undertaking paid employment, through the Access To Work Scheme. Contact the Disability Employment Adviser in your local job centre. You might also contact your LA to discuss eligibility for funding through the postgraduate DSA scheme.

NHS-funded students may be eligible for additional support from the NHS Bursaries Office. Contact the Bursaries Office for more information or follow this link for more information on NHS Student Bursaries (PDF).

International Students may be able to receive some financial support from the British Council. This support is not guaranteed and applicants should also find out about available funding in their country before beginning studies in the UK.

Your institution (or the institution you hope to study at) might have systems in place to help support students who do not receive funding from other sources, but you cannot assume this is the case. Contact the Disabilities Office or Student Services Department for more information.

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Who is eligible for support?

You do not need to be 'registered disabled' to qualify for support from the Disabled Students Allowances. Typically, You could be eligible for additional support if

  • You are dyslexic or have 'specific learning difficulties',
  • You are blind or visually impaired,
  • You are deaf or hard of hearing,
  • You have mobility difficulties or use a wheelchair for mobility,
  • You have a long term medical condition which causes stamina, concentration, mobility or dexterity difficulties,
  • You have mental health difficulties,
  • You have autism or Asperger's syndrome,
  • You have another condition which affects your ability to participate in studying.

If you do not think any of these categories apply to, contact your disability officer, education officer or local Assessment centre for advice.

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How do I apply for the DSA?

You will need to have clear documentary evidence that a disability or other difficulty exists and this will usually need to have been produced quite recently. Ask the student support service of your education authority or funding body about the type of evidence they need from you.

You should provide a copy of this evidence to the relevant department in your funding body and ask them to confirm in writing your eligibility to apply to the DSA. If you want to arrange an Assessment Centre assessment, you need to ask the authority to confirm that they agree for you to have a Study Aids and Strategies Assessment at an Assessment Centre (some will automatically refer you to an Assessment Centre). When you have this confirmation contact your nearest (or the preferred) Assessment Centre and arrange for an assessment.

We suggest you seek the advice of your college/university Disabilities Office before beginning an application for Disabled Students Allowances. If you are concerned about confidentiality (i.e. you didn't want to tell the college/university about your disability) make this clear when you ask for advice.

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Funding for daily living costs while studying

Some students may be able to receive income support or other benefits while studying. For example, to cover any costs in arranging for personal assistance to help with daily living tasks or personal care. These are often costs that you might incur whether you are studying or not. The DSAs are designed to cover study-related costs only.

It is very important that you get independent advice if you need this support. Student welfare advisers in the university or college often have a wealth of experience and will be happy to advise you, even if you have not yet made an application to study there. You could also contact SKILL for advice or look up information on their web page or speak with your local Disability Advice Centre.

You may also find relevant information on the Benefits Agency Disability Benefits Site.

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Covering additional costs and exceptional circumstances

Higher Education Institutions have funds available to help cover additional costs incurred through "exceptional circumstances" while studying. This could include the cost of obtaining a diagnosis for dyslexia or other disability-related costs that cannot be reimbursed through DSA. These funds are limited and often only available at certain times of the year.

You must meet the particular criteria set by your institution for eligibility to obtain funding from these allowances. Your Disability Officer, Student Services Officers, Welfare Advisers or Student Union officers can give you more advice and help you to prepare an application.

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