Flowchart of the application process
(Our Accessibility team are here to advise and support you throughout this process.)
See the 'Save the Student' website, which has a clear 'DSA guide 2021'.
DSA websites for each UK country
Below are the different DSA pages for each UK country. Click the link for your home country to read detailed guidance on how to apply and find the forms you need to fill in.
- England – Student Finance England
- Scotland – Student Awards Agency Scotland
- Wales – Student Finance Wales
- Northern Ireland – Student Finance NI.
When applying, you have to provide evidence of your condition. For disabilities, mental health conditions, Autistic Spectrum or long-term health conditions you will need a copy of a report or letter from your GP or consultant (or completed disability evidence form).
SpLD evidence - please read carefully
For Specific Learning Differences such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, you will need a diagnostic assessment from a suitably-qualified educational psychologist or specialist teacher assessor with an Assessment Practising Certificate (APC). You can check these on the SASC website. A school statement or evidence of exam arrangements is not sufficient.
You can expect to pay at least £350 for a diagnostic assessment so you might want to do some screening first to check if it is worthwhile. See our page on 'Information, checklists and screening for SpLDs and Autism'. (Falmouth students studying on campus should see the page on 'Screening and Assessment for Specific Learning Differences'.) If you have any questions about possible SpLDs and screening, please contact our Inclusive Learning team.
Hardship Fund (for Exeter students)
You may be able to get help towards the cost of your assessment if you are on a low income. See the link below:
DSA 1 letter - take action
If your application for DSA is successful, you will get a letter (known as a DSA 1) from your funding body telling you to book a Study Needs Assessment. You will not need to pay for this yourself but you will need to book it. Please read the letter carefully to find out how to do this, or your DSA will be delayed.
Study Needs Assessments can be carried out face-to-face or online. You can book a Needs Assessment on Penryn campus with A2B Assessments or Contact Associates. There is also an assessment centre in Penryn run by Access2Learn. Alternatively, you can find a national needs assessment centre here.
Needs Assessments usually last between one and two hours and involve a discussion between you and a Study Needs Assessor, who will ask you how you study and what areas you you may struggle with. You will then usually look at different types of support software and equipment and discuss one-to-one support. Have a think beforehand about what kind of support you think will be useful, what areas you want more information about and any concerns you might have.
By the end of the Study Needs Assessment, you and your assessor will have agreed on what support is going to be recommended. The assessor will then write a report with details of your support and send a copy to you, your funding body and (with your permission) your university. Once your funding body has received this report, they will send you another letter (known as a DSA 2) to confirm which recommendations they agree to fund. This letter will tell you what to do and who to contact to arrange any equipment, software, training and one-to-one support.
When you get this letter, read it carefully as it will tell you who to contact to arrange your equipment and support. If you don't do this, your support will be delayed.
Contact the suppliers in your DSA 2 letter to arrange your support. If you have been awarded a laptop or computer, you will have to pay the £200 contribution to the supplier before they can deliver it. (If you are on a low income, see the information about the University Hardship Fund, above, to see if you can get help with this.)
Ideally, try to get your support set up before you start university as this will make everything go more smoothly. However, you can apply for DSA at any time during your course.
If you are getting a specialist tutor, mentor or other non-medical helper (NMH), contact the support provider to say you would like the support to start. Try to meet with your NMH regularly, as this will help you put long-term strategies in place which will help you meet your full potential on your course.