STUDENTS at the University of York and the University of York St John have expressed concern that the government intends to slash funding to disabled students.
David Willetts, the universities and science minister, said in a written ministerial statement he wants to “modernise” the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA).
The National Union of Students said dyslexic students needing support for computer equipment to aid their studies would lose out and warned the costs of specialist accommodation for disabled students may not be met by DSA.
It is feared the decision may make higher education inaccessible for disabled students from poorer backgrounds. Now students from both university unions have written to Mr Willetts, and York MPs Hugh Bayley and Julian Sturdy, to ask for clarification and caution over the plans.
Thomas Ron, disabled students’ officer at the University of York Students' Union, said: “While the statement is vague and there is no way of knowing what the Government intends, many believe there will be cuts regarding non-medical support such as note-takers and mentors.
This is a crucial aspect of many students’ academic lives, and is critical to them achieving their degree. While DSA has not been visited in many years, these types of cuts are very concerning. The report seems to be characterising some disabilities as 'more severe' than others, which is concerning and bordering on ‘ableist’.”
In their letter, the presidents and disabled students’ officers invite Mr Willetts to come and discuss the proposed changes “so we can dispel any confusion and concerns students may have”.
It added: “As we know this policy is just in its inception, such an opportunity would allow you to consult with the students you will be affecting so that the policy is the best.”
They have also asked Mr Sturdy and My Bayley to look into the plans on their behalf.