DSA cuts will mean fewer opportunities for disabled people, Emma warns

July 4, 2014

131106 ELB WM HALL smallThis week Parliament debated the Government’s plans to reform the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA).  Emma explained that the changes would mean large numbers of students would lose out on support, forcing some to drop out of their course while others would be put off applying to university at all.

She told the MPs attending the debate in Westminster Hall about how during her time as a student, the support she had received because of her dyspraxia and dyslexia had made all the difference to her education.

Emma said:

“I know that without the support that came from my university I would never have qualified as a social worker, and that is why the proposals concern me. From 2016, a person in my position may be denied the opportunities that allowed me to succeed academically.”

“Disabled people already face disadvantages in higher education. They are less likely to enrol and to study full time, and more likely to drop out before finishing their course. If that is the situation now, we can expect it to get worse once the Government’s DSA cuts take effect. Disabled people thinking about entering higher education today will have no idea what support to expect, or what the effect on their finances will be.”

You can read Emma’s full speech, and the rest of the debate, by clicking here.

Labour’s Universities spokesman Liam Byrne MP shared Emma’s concerns, saying that the proposals were “a gamble with the futures of disabled students in our country.”

The Universities Minister David Willetts MP, in responding to the debate, said that the DSA system needed to be modernised to recognise the new equality duties given to Universities under the Equality Act.

However, Labour MPs including Emma pointed out that many universities did not have the funding to provide all the services disabled students require, without the additional support given to students through DSA.

Emma has previously questioned the Minister on this issue before, and backed the National Union of Students’ campaign against DSA cuts last month.

Speaking after the debate, Emma said:

“The Minister claims that universities will be able to plug the gaps left by DSA, but he won’t show the evidence to support his case, and his Government won’t even consult the public on these changes. 

“Disabled people thinking of applying to university will be worried about whether they can afford to go, and many more will find that these changes put them under even more financial pressure. The Minister should listen to the warnings of MPs and students and put a stop to these plans.”

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