Our DSA Journey
This summer we reached an important milestone in our Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) reforms journey.
DSA is additional financial support that can be used to pay for the extra study related costs a student may incur as a result of their disability. Working with our colleagues in the Department for Education (DfE) and the Higher Education Division of Welsh Government, as well as gathering insight and feedback from our DSA Customer Panel and third sector organisations, we are making improvements to the service to deliver a better experience for DSA customers.
In July, we awarded Study Tech Limited (Study Tech) and Capita Business Services Limited (Capita) the framework to supply needs assessments, assistive technology and assistive technology training for students in receipt of DSA. Students will continue to apply to SLC, however, once their eligibility has been assessed and their funding is approved, they will be allocated to a single supplier, who will manage their end-to-end support for the services above. Currently, students often have to contact multiple organisations to try to arrange their support and they have told us that this process is too long and difficult. As well as streamlining the process, the new model will result in formal contractual arrangements being put in place which will improve the customer experience, enhance transparency and controls, and deliver greater value for money for students and taxpayers.
Study Tech and Capita are highly experienced in providing DSA services and we have been working closely and collaboratively with them to plan for the transition to the new service, which will take place in February 2024. The timing has been specifically chosen as it aligns to when students begin to apply for student finance for the 24/25 academic year. There is no impact on new students starting university, or those returning to their studies, this autumn.
Key to our reforms is to deliver an improved customer experience and we are committed to enhancing and strengthening the process, to ensure it better meets the needs of students and enables them to fulfil their potential in higher education. Part of this means regularly surveying customers after they complete parts of their DSA journey. This helps us understand their experience of the application and needs assessment process, and the supply and setup of equipment. Under the new service model, SLC will provide suppliers with customer satisfaction feedback about how their service is being received by students.
SLC will have oversight of the quality of the services being provided to customers and through formal performance management, we will ensure suppliers deliver against the framework requirements.
It's our vision to be widely recognised as enabling student opportunity and delivering an outstanding customer experience in the efficient delivery of the four UK Governments’ further and higher education finance policies. The DSA procurement reforms, and the improvements to the customer journey it will enable, takes us one step closer to realising this vision. We remain committed to improving the experience for all students in receipt of DSA and we know there is more to be done.