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Higher Education in Scotland: Guidance for Disabled People


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  • 1. Information Higher Education in Scotland: guidance for disabled people • You may photocopy this information booklet • You may quote from this information booklet if you acknowledge the source • Skill information booklets are available in standard print, large print, Braille, tape and disk formats • Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy. However, Skill cannot guarantee factual content Skill Scotland Norton Park, 57 Albion Road, Edinburgh EH7 5QY Tel: 0131 475 2348 Email: Web: Information Service: Monday to Thursday 1.30pm – 4.30pm Tel/Text: 0800 328 5050 Email: Skill is a company limited by guarantee (2397897) and a registered charity (801970) also registered in Scotland (SC039212)
  • 2. Higher education in Scotland: guidance for disabled people Contents Page 1. Introduction 2 2. What is higher education? 3 3. Making decisions about higher education 12 4. Applying for a higher education course 15 5. Disability-related support: the Disabled 19 Students’ Allowance 6. Other disability-related support 26 7. Financing your studies 29 8. Other services available in colleges and 32 universities 9. Where to get advice and support 34 10. Useful publications 36 11. Useful contacts 39 1. Introduction You might want to go into higher education (HE) to improve your career prospects, to create new opportunities for yourself, or simply to pursue studies that you enjoy. Higher education gives you the chance to develop knowledge and gain qualifications, as well as the opportunity to meet new people and gain new experiences. You will need to think about your skills, your personality and your interests to decide whether higher education is for you. This booklet aims to help you through the process of applying to higher education, as well as providing information and advice about any extra support available if you have a disability, and how you might fund your studies. The booklet helps you think about your options in higher education after you have finished 2
  • 3. school, and is also useful if you are older and considering going back into education. For more detailed information on higher education, including contact details, the applications process and institutional contact details, please refer to the Skill publication Into Higher Education (updated each year) - please see section 10 for details. 2. What is higher education? Most Scottish qualifications have been brought together in a single national framework known as the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). This framework places each qualification at a ‘level’ to help learners understand how different qualifications relate to each other (see table on page 9). Higher education in Scotland is anything which takes place above level 6 (Scottish Highers), such as degree programmes or Higher National Diplomas. Higher education in Scotland can either take place in colleges or universities, and in some cases in the workplace (eg. Scottish Vocational Qualifications). Postgraduate qualifications are also classed as higher education. For further information, please refer to the Skill information booklet Postgraduate education for disabled students. What qualifications might I get? There are many different types of HE qualifications available in Scottish colleges and universities, ranging from Advanced Highers in schools or colleges, to general degree programmes, to more specialised work-related qualifications. Most qualifications in Scotland are either awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) or individual universities. 3
  • 4. If you are not sure which level you want to study at, you might want to speak to a careers adviser or the college or university admissions department to get more details before you apply. Many of the qualifications listed below can also be taken as open or distance learning qualifications, for example through the Open University – see section 3 for more details. For details of further education qualifications, please see the Skill information booklet Further education and training in Scotland: guidance for disabled people. HE qualifications in schools Most HE qualifications are taken in colleges or universities. However, some students who have completed Scottish Highers may find it useful to take Advanced Highers in sixth year at school (or at some colleges) as preparation for degree programmes. • Advanced Highers (SCQF level 7) Advanced Highers are broadly equivalent to the first year of a Scottish undergraduate degree programme, and are also accepted by some universities as a direct progression route into the second year of a degree programme. They are also useful for entry into training or employment, or other higher education programmes. HE qualifications in colleges/workplaces Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) are vocational (work-related) programmes which cover a wide range of subjects and are designed to provide you with practical work-related skills. HNCs and HNDs are usually taken at college, although they can also be taken at some universities, and are broadly equivalent to the first two years of a degree programme. 4
  • 5. • HNCs (SCQF level 7) HNCs normally take one year to complete if studying full- time, and two to three years if studied part-time. If you successfully complete an HNC, you may be able to progress on to an HND or, depending on each university’s admissions policy, a degree programme. • HNDs (SCQF level 8) HNDs normally take one year to complete if studying full- time, and two to three years if studied part-time. If you successfully complete an HND, you may be able to progress on to a degree programme. Some universities may allow you to progress directly to the 2nd or 3rd year of a degree programme. • Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) SVQs are vocational qualifications which are aimed at giving you the skills and knowledge you will need in specific occupations. SVQs are normally available in colleges or in the workplace, or by a mix of both, and are based on National Occupational Standards. They are available at 5 levels, and those above level 3 are classed as higher education qualifications. Level 4 SVQs (SCQF level 8) involve a broad range of complex, technical or professional work activities, and are generally aimed at those employed in managerial positions. Level 5 SVQs (SCQF level 11) are often aimed at professionals and senior managers, e.g. SVQ Level 5 in Leadership and Management. HE qualifications in universities The following qualifications are awarded by individual universities: • Certificate of Higher Education (SCQF level 7) Certificates of Higher Education (Cert. HE) qualifications are awarded after the equivalent of one year full-time higher 5
  • 6. education. They can be awarded as qualifications in their own right (often job-related), or as an exit award for those people who do not complete a degree programme. Some Cert. HEs are awarded for achievement in several subjects, while others focus on one subject. • Diploma of Higher Education (SCQF level 8) Diploma of Higher Education (Dip. HE) qualifications are awarded after the equivalent of two years full-time higher education. As with Cert. HEs, they can be awarded as qualifications in their own right, or as exit awards after two years of higher education study at university. • Scottish Bachelor’s (Ordinary) Degrees (SCQF level 9) Bachelor’s Degrees, sometimes referred to as ‘ordinary degrees’, in Scotland tend to be three years long and are available in a wide range of subjects. Depending on the subject studied, it is usually awarded either as a Bachelor of Science (BSc) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA), although in some universities in Scotland this qualification may be called a Master of Arts (MA). Other awards include BEng (Engineering and related courses), BMus (Music) or LLB (Law). • Scottish Bachelor’s Degrees with Honours (SCQF level 10) Such degrees, usually referred to as Honours degrees, tend to be four years long and are broadly equivalent to the three- year BA Honours degree in England. On completion of an Honours degree, you may be able to progress to postgraduate study if you achieve a 2:1 or above. Honours classification is usually determined by performance in the third and fourth years. 6
  • 7. • Graduate Certificates/Diplomas (SCQF levels 9 and 10) The Graduate Certificate/Diploma route is a flexible way for graduates to obtain an award for further study in modules of degree and honours level. These qualifications are for graduates, but are not at postgraduate level. For example, a Biology graduate might want to develop expertise in Forensic Science. Entry requirements Entry requirements vary depending on the nature and level of the course, however most degree level courses generally require you to obtain qualifications such as Highers, Advanced Highers, A- Levels or Access Certificates. If you are a mature student and do not have formal qualifications, institutions might look at other experiences or qualifications you have gained through work or on an Access programme. Access programmes are entry routes in to HE specifically designed for mature students and under-represented groups. They are offered in some Scottish colleges in partnership with one or more universities, and can guarantee you a place at college or university if you complete the programme successfully. For entry to an Access course, you should apply direct to the college you would like to attend. Developing your qualifications The SCQF national qualifications framework gives each qualification credit points and a level to help you understand how different learning programmes relate to each other, and to help you decide how to progress. There are 12 levels, ranging from basic Access courses to Doctorates, and each qualification is allocated ‘credit points’ to make it easier to see how much learning you have to complete to achieve a qualification (see the table on page 9). Anything above level 6 in this table is classed as higher education. 7
  • 8. This allows you to see how you can develop your qualifications by moving up or across the framework levels. For example, you might want to try an Honours degree in Engineering after you have completed an HND. It is also possible to transfer the credit points that you get for one programme of learning to another if the university or other awarding body allows this. Qualifications at the same level are not necessarily the same in terms of content, length and assessment, but are likely to be at the same level of skill or understanding. So for example, while a Graduate Certificate and an Honours Degree are both at level 10 of the SCQF, you need to achieve 60 credit points to gain a Graduate Certificate, whereas an Honours Degree requires 480, i.e. the greater the credit points, the greater amount of time you need to spend studying to achieve the qualification. Developing your qualifications (This section is a written description of the table on page 11 which readers using a screen reader may find useful.) The table provides information on the main qualifications available in Scotland and the level at which they are placed on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), ranging from levels 1 to 12. It categorises these qualifications into those which are awarded at school (SQA) and colleges, and those which are awarded by universities. The table also shows the number of credit points allocated to each qualification. The qualifications in this table at SCQF levels 1 to 6 are classed as school and further education level qualifications, while those from levels 7 to 12 are classed as higher education. Qualifications at SCQF level 1: • Access level I courses (6 credit points) Qualifications at SCQF level 2: 8
  • 9. • Access level 2 courses (18 credit points) Qualifications at SCQF level 3: • Access level 3 courses (18 credit points) • Foundation level Standard Grades (24 credit points) Qualifications at SCQF level 4: • General level Standard Grades (24 credit points) • Intermediate level 1 courses (24 credit points) • SVQ level 1 courses (credit points still to be allocated) Qualifications at SCQF level 5: • Credit level Standard Grades (24 credit points) • Intermediate level 2 courses (24 credit points) • SVQ level 2 courses (credit points still to be allocated) Qualifications at SCQF level 6: • Highers (24 credit points) • SVQ level 3 courses (credit points still to be allocated) Qualifications at SCQF level 7: • Advanced Highers (32 credit points) • HNC (96 or 120 credit points) • Certificate of Higher Education (120 credit points) Qualifications at SCQF level 8: • HND (240 credit points) • Diploma of Higher Education (240 credit points) • SVQ level 4 (credit points still to be allocated) Qualifications at SCQF level 9: • Ordinary degree (360 credit points) • Graduate Certificate or Diploma (60 or 120 credit points) Qualifications at SCQF level 10: 9
  • 10. • Honours degree (480 credit points) • Graduate Certificate or Diploma (60 or 120 credit points) Qualifications at SCQF level 11: • Master’s degree (180 or 600 credit points) • SVQ level 5 (credit points still to be allocated) Qualifications at SCQF level 12: • Doctorate (540 credit points) 10
  • 11. SCQF SQA / College University qualifications level qualifications Doctorate 12 (540) Master’s 11 SVQ Degree Level 5 (180/600) Bachelor’s Graduate 10 Certificate/ Degree with HIGHER EDUCATION Honours (480) Diploma (HE) (60/120) 9 Bachelor’s Graduate (ordinary) Certificate/ Degree (360) Diploma (60/120) 8 SVQ Level 4 Higher Diploma of National HE (240) Diploma (240) 7 Advanced Higher National Certificate of Higher (32) Certificate HE (120) (96/120) 6 Higher (24) SVQ Level 3 5 Credit Intermediate 2 Standard (24) Grade (24) SVQ Level 2 SCHOOL / FURTHER 4 General Intermediate 1 (24) EDUCATION Standard Grade (24) SVQ Level 1 3 Foundation Access 3 (18) Standard Grade (24) 2 Access 2 (18) 1 Access 1 (6) 11
  • 12. 3. Making decisions about higher education Choosing a course You may want to study a course because you are particularly interested in it, or you may want to think about which courses are most likely to get you the job you want. When deciding what to study, there are many things you will need to think about such as: • Is the course necessary to get the job you want, or could you take an HE qualification in any subject? • Which subject(s) do you want to study? Are you happy with the course content? (The same course at different universities can vary in content). • Do you want to study full-time or part-time? • Which teaching methods will be used? • What assessment methods will the course have? • What level of course do you want? • Do you meet the entry requirements? Is there a related course with different entry requirements? • Do you want the course to include work experience or study abroad? For further advice on which course is right for you, you might find it useful to arrange a meeting with a careers adviser at your school or college, or a Careers Scotland careers adviser (see page 33). You can also discuss this with tutors, friends and family. The following resources can give you further information about higher education courses: • College or university prospectuses: these set out the courses available at each institution. You can obtain these free of charge by contacting the university or college admissions department or from their website. 12
  • 13. • Learndirect Scotland: holds details on the whole range of courses available across Scotland (contact details on page 38) • Directories: Careers offices usually keep course directories, for example, the Big Guide produced by UCAS. Refer to section 10, page 35 for more details of this booklet). • UK Course Provider: CD-Rom database of higher education courses in the UK usually found in careers offices. • Websites: the UCAS website allows you to search for information on higher education courses at universities or colleges around the UK. You will also find links to the websites of institutions. Deciding where to study You may be tempted to apply only to institutions which seem to have good provision for disabled students, or one that is closest to you. But take care – choosing the right institution and course for you is very important. A good way to start is to make a list of the places that offer the courses you want. Then think through the other issues that might be important to you as a student. For example: • Academic considerations: you might want to think about the facilities and reputation of the college or university, the subjects offered, the academic support it offers. • Location: do you want to go somewhere near or away from home? A single campus or a multi-site institution? Is it near to public transport links? • Student community: is it a small or large university? How many students are there? • Access: by law, all colleges and universities should be accessible. However, you might find it useful to visit the institutions you are interested in to make sure they are appropriate for your particular needs. • Disability support: please see section 5. 13
  • 14. • Accommodation: again, accommodation should be accessible, however it is important to ensure that the accommodation offered is accessible for your particular needs. You might also need to find out if the university are able to install equipment or adaptations, or if they will provide a room for your personal assistant if you have one. You will also need to think about things such as cost, location, facilities, catering, etc. • Recreation and leisure facilities: are facilities such as clubs, shops, sports facilities, etc. accessible? It is important to be able to access the local area as well as the college or university, especially if you are living away from home. Deciding how you will study The way a higher education course is taught could be different from what you have been used to. The main teaching methods are: • lectures: an expert on a topic speaks to a large group of students, often using overhead slides or other visual aids • seminars/tutorials: a less formal setting than a lecture during which thoughts are shared and theories developed in smaller groups • computer-based learning: often interactive learning • practical or laboratory work, sometimes with supervision. Some courses will require you to study more on your own, while others will have more lectures and tutorials to attend. Some may include placements, work experience or study abroad. Full-time or part-time? You may feel that you will not be able to study full-time due to your impairment, because you have a job you do not want to give up or a family to support, or because you prefer the flexibility of part-time study. Many courses can now be taken part-time. However, you should bear in mind that this will usually take twice 14
  • 15. as long to complete and there may be different funding arrangements – see section 7 for more information. Open and distance learning Open and distance learning courses allow a very flexible approach to studying. You study at your own pace and most, if not all, of the work is done from home, though there may be occasional attendance at an open learning centre. Courses usually involve a range of media including the internet, TV and DVD. The Open University is the largest open learning institution in the UK and offers a range of higher education courses – contact details on page 39. For further information on open and distance learning, please see Skill’s information booklet Opportunities in open and distance learning. 4. Applying for a higher education course You can get detailed information about the admissions process from the Skill publication Into Higher Education (updated each year) - see section 10. The following provides general information. Application process Application should be made through one of the following processes: • Directly to the college/university: for most HNCs and HNDs, you should apply directly to your chosen college (for HNC/Ds in universities you should apply through UCAS). You can either contact the college to get an application form or, in some cases, download it from the institution’s website. For all Drama courses at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, you should apply directly to the Academy. 15
  • 16. You should also apply straight to the Open University (OU) for OU courses. • Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS): for most undergraduate degrees, Diplomas of Higher Education, and some Diplomas, you need to apply through UCAS. For some HNC or HND courses in universities you may also need to apply through UCAS, rather than directly to the institution. You can get UCAS application forms from careers services or directly from UCAS. Or you may choose to apply to UCAS online. You can apply to up to 6 institutions (or up to 4 institutions to study Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Medicine/Science). • CATCH: for Diplomas in Nursing and Midwifery (Dip. HEs) in Scotland, you should apply through Centralised Applications to Nursing and Midwifery Training Clearing House (CATCH). CATCH is part of NHS Education for Scotland. For degree programmes in Nursing and Midwifery you should apply through UCAS. For Diploma courses in England, you should apply through the Nursing and Midwifery Admissions Service (NMAS). • Conservatoires UK Admissions Service (CUKAS): Applications to music courses at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama should be made through CUKAS. Music courses at all other institutions should be made through UCAS. The contact details for these application services are listed in section 11 this booklet. After you have been accepted to your chosen institution, you might find it useful to visit the college or university to talk about the support you might need when you start the course. 16
  • 17. When to apply Most degree courses have a deadline of 15 January, but if you are applying for Medicine, Veterinary Medicine/Science or Dentistry, or to Oxford University or Cambridge University, the deadline is 15 October. You should double check with each institution/admissions body to make sure you don’t miss the deadline. Giving information about your disability or impairment Most application forms ask if you have a disability or additional support needs. You don’t need to fill this in if you don’t want to. However, if you do, the college or university will be able to meet your needs much more effectively. All information given to institutions about your disability or support needs will be kept private and will not be passed on to anyone else unless you give your permission. Under Part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), education providers are not allowed to discriminate against you because you have a disability. For further details, see section 6, page 24. Selection interviews If you have to attend an interview, let the institution know if you need any particular arrangements, eg. an interpreter or extra time. You may be asked about your disability, for example about adapting course material to suit your needs. Be prepared to speak about potential problems and practical solutions. It is best if this has already been discussed during an information visit. Offers Admissions tutors decide whether to offer you a place and the offer will either be ‘conditional’ (your exam results must meet the grade requirements of the course) or ‘unconditional’ (you are offered a place with no further conditions). 17
  • 18. Rejections Institutions rarely give reasons for a rejection. If you think you have been rejected because of your disability, contact the institution to find out. If the institution is not able to provide the facilities or access you require, and you have applied through UCAS, you will be able to choose a replacement course. If you feel you have been unfairly rejected because of your disability, you may need to go through the internal complaints procedure. Refer to the Skill information booklet Making a complaint (Scotland) for more guidance. If you do not have any offers If you decline all offers, or if all your applications are rejected, you may be eligible for UCAS Extra (if you have applied through the UCAS system). This is a scheme which allows you to make additional choices, one at a time. When UCAS writes to you with your final decision letter, they will tell you if you are eligible for Extra. The courses available through Extra will be highlighted on the course search service on the UCAS website, or you can contact universities and colleges directly. You can either apply for courses through Extra on the UCAS website, or via a paper Extra Passport. If you do not gain the exam results you need If you do not gain the exam results you need, or if you decline all your offers, do not panic. Contact the college or university to find out if they will accept you if you were close to the results you needed. Places on the course could still be open. Otherwise, there are three further options: • Clearing (UCAS system only): from July to September, institutions can have another look at applications. If you did not receive any offers, declined all offers, were unsuccessful in getting the results needed or applied too late, you will automatically receive a Clearing entry form with instruction details. (However, if you have complex care needs, this 18
  • 19. option may be difficult for you, as it can be challenging to set up support in the short time before the start of term. • Retaking: if you are determined to take a particular course, retaking exams may allow you to reapply the following year. It is worthwhile asking individual institutions about their admissions policies as better grades may be expected. • Rethinking: think about alternative courses or a career path that may not involve higher education. Talk over your options with a careers adviser. Further info on the process of applying to higher education is available in Skill’s publication Into Higher Education (updated each year), which includes profiles of disabled students experiences of higher education. It also has contact details of universities’ disability coordinators. Please see section 10, page 35. 5. Disability-related support: the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) If you have a disability, a specific learning difficulty or a long-term health condition and are taking a higher education course in either a college or university, you may be eligible for extra funding from the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). This allowance is intended to cover any extra costs you have while you are studying that arise because of your disability. It is not intended to pay for: • disability-related costs that you would have whether you were a student or not, eg personal care support; • study costs that every student might have. There are three allowances to cover different areas of need: • Large items of equipment allowance 19
  • 20. • Non-medical helper’s allowance • Basic allowance. DSA is not paid in set amounts, but is needs-based. You may receive a grant to cover the cost of specific items of equipment, specific support worker costs, and so on. However, there are maximum amounts for each allowance. DSA is not means-tested, so you can receive it regardless of the income of yourself and your family. It is paid by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for Scottish students (including Scottish students who are studying in the rest of the UK). Students from the rest of the UK should apply to their local authority (England and Wales) or Education and Library Board (Northern Ireland). Who is eligible for DSAs? In order to be able to apply for DSA, you need meet the personal eligibility conditions, as well as the course conditions. Personal eligibility: • you must be studying in a publicly-funded college or university; and • you must be ordinarily resident in the UK for three years immediately before the course start date, and, ordinarily resident in Scotland on the first day of your course – for further information on residency conditions, please see the Scottish Executive/Skill Scotland publication Helping you meet the costs of learning: funding for disabled students (updated each year). See page 36. If you are ordinarily resident in other parts of the UK, you should apply to your local awarding authority for DSA. If you are an international student, you will not be eligible for DSAs. For further information on the support available to international disabled students, please see Guidance on International Students with 20
  • 21. Personal Care Support Needs, from the Scottish Disability Team at Course eligibility: You can claim DSA if you are enrolled on a full-time or some part- time higher education level courses at a college or university in the UK. Please note the following: • if you are taking a part-time course, the course must be at least 50% of the full-time equivalent; that is, not last more than twice as long as the full-time equivalent. The maximum amount you can receive is in proportion to a full-time course (except for the specialist equipment allowance), eg. if you study for half a week, the maximum amount you can receive is 50% of these allowances • if you are taking a postgraduate course, DSA is available on the same basis as undergraduate students. However, if you are receiving funding from a Research Council or the Scottish Social Services Council, they will be expected to award your DSA, instead of SAAS • if you are taking a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Community Education (PGDipCE), you may be eligible for the same funding as undergraduate students, unless you have previously taken a postgraduate course or your first degree has qualified you for a profession – you should check with SAAS to see if you qualify • if you are taking an open or distance learning programme, the process is the same as for other forms of study. If you are studying part-time, this must be at least 50% of a full- time programme of study and should be at least 60 credits in the first year. DSA allowances For up-to-date rates on the maximum amount you can receive, please refer to Helping you meet the costs of learning: funding for disabled students (see page 36). 21
  • 22. (i) Large items of equipment allowance This allowance is for items of specialist equipment you need to participate in your programme of study and to benefit fully from it, eg: • a computer or laptop, possibly with adaptive technology • a tape/minidisc recorder • Braille printer or notetakers • radio microphone system • specialist furniture, eg chair, table or back support to enable you to study • insurance or extended warranty costs • training in how to use the equipment. For further information about the type of equipment you might need, see the Skill booklet Assistive Technology: sources of help and information Any equipment bought with this allowance belongs to you and you do not have return it when you finish your programme of study. This allowance is paid for the whole course, not every year, and can be paid at any time or times during your studies, as long as the total payments do not exceed the maximum. If your needs for equipment change during your course, you can make additional claims, subject to the overall maximum. If your need for equipment arises towards the end of your studies, SAAS is likely to be cautious about buying major items of equipment, and may ask you to consider alternative arrangements, e.g. leasing equipment or using human support instead, if this is possible. (ii) Non-medical helpers’ allowance This allowance is for any course-related personal assistance you might need in order to benefit fully from your course. For example, you can apply for the costs of sign language interpreters, readers or a mobility enabler. DSA does not meet 22
  • 23. the cost of extra academic tuition or support in the subject you are studying. However, if you need specialist tutorial support that is specifically related to your disability, for example study skills support for dyslexic students, you may be able to claim the costs from this allowance. DSA does not pay for help that you would need whether you were a student or not, such as assistance with your daily living needs. As payments are usually for helpers’ wages or costs, they are usually made in regular instalments, and can be paid to you, your institution, or your helper. The way in which you get your assistance will depend upon the institution you attend and what suits you best. You might want to use a helper employed by the institution or an agency, or you might want to employ your own helper directly. For more information on the options available to you, please see the Scottish Executive/Skill Scotland booklet Employing Support Workers in Higher Education: a guide for students and advisors (see page 37 for details). (iii) Basic allowance This allowance is intended to cover any costs related to disability and study that are not covered by the other specific allowances. For example, this allowance can pay for extra books or photocopying if you are unable to study for long periods in the library, extra costs of special dietary needs over and above your normal costs, tapes and disks that you need for your studies. It can also be used to top up one of the other allowances. Applying for DSA You can get an application form for DSA from SAAS, and you can apply once you have been accepted on the course. The deadline for applying is 30 June. 23
  • 24. To apply for DSA, you need to provide evidence of your disability to SAAS. This is usually a letter from your GP, a report from an educational psychologist, or a report from another relevant organisation. If you need to have a diagnosis to establish whether or not you have a disability eg. dyslexia, you cannot claim the diagnostic assessment costs through DSA. In this case, you may be able to get help from your institution’s hardship fund. The application form asks you about the additional costs which you will have due to your disability. If you are not sure what you will need on your course, the best thing to do is to arrange to meet the disability adviser/support staff in your college or university. They can discuss with you the nature of your course and the different kinds of possible support. They can also tell you about the equipment and services they can provide directly. Someone from you college/university needs to sign the DSA form before you send it to SAAS. If SAAS would like more information about your needs on the course, they may ask you to have an assessment of your needs. This assessment might be done by your college or university, or by an Access Centre. The earliest you can usually have this is in the March before the start of your course. The assessment looks at how your disability affects you and what support you require to help you complete the course. It will identify needs that can be paid for by DSA, as well as support that your college or university can provide. This assessment can be very helpful for you. The assessor may be aware of solutions that you have not tried before, and will also take into account the higher education environment, which might be new to you. SAAS will provide you with full information about how to arrange this assessment and will pay for it. 24
  • 25. Dealing with problems If you experience any difficulty with your application for DSA, contact the disability adviser or welfare officer at your college or university for help and support. Skill Scotland’s Information Service can also offer advice. Any administration problems should be sorted out with SAAS directly. If your application is turned down, find out the reasons why this occurred. If you do not agree with the decision, you can ask for a review or make a formal complaint if necessary. See Skill Scotland’s information booklet, Making a Complaint (Scotland). If your DSA is not paid to you in time for the start of term, you should discuss interim arrangements with the disability adviser or other staff at your institution. They might be able to: • put support in place at the college/university’s expense and then reclaim the money from the DSA when it is in place; or • make a loan payment from the institution’s hardship fund until your DSA is paid; or • lend you or make available the required support or equipment. Frequently asked questions Is DSA means-tested? No. Eligibility for DSA does not depend on your income or the income of your family. What if I have studied before? You will be eligible for DSA even if you have done a previous undergraduate course. 25
  • 26. Can I get DSA if I am not applying for other funding? If you are not applying to SAAS for your fees or your student loan, you will still be eligible for DSA (as long as you meet the residency conditions). What if my needs change during my study? You can apply for help to meet costs throughout your study up to the maximum amount of each of the allowances, although you will need to have a reassessment. Will DSA affect my welfare benefits? No. Because DSA is only paid for specific disability/study-related costs, it does not cover daily living costs. What if I am repeating periods of study? SAAS may agree to continue making payments of your DSA if, for reasons related to your disability, you have to repeat periods of study or you need to extend your study in order to complete it. 6. Other disability-related support This section explains your college or university’s duties towards you as a disabled student, as well as the roles and responsibilities of other agencies in meeting your support needs. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) Part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) says that all education providers have a duty to make ‘reasonable’ adjustments to ensure disabled students are not placed at an unreasonable disadvantage compared to non-disabled students. These duties are ‘anticipatory’, hence education institutions need to look ahead to provide the necessary adjustments which disabled people are likely to require. 26
  • 27. In addition, education providers must not discriminate against you as a disabled student or treat you less favourably than a non- disabled student for a reason related to your disability. This duty covers all main college/university services and procedures, such as admissions and enrolment, teaching and learning, student services, and exclusions. From September 2007, general qualifications awarding bodies, including the Scottish Qualifications Authority, will also be covered by Part 4 of the DDA. For further information on your rights under the DDA, please see Skill’s info booklet Understanding the Disability Discrimination Act: information for disabled students. What support might my college or university provide? Your college or university has a duty under Part 4 of the DDA to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled students. This can be particularly important if you do not receive the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) or you have reached your DSA maximum. An institution’s duty to provide reasonable adjustments also extend to areas that DSA does not cover, such as improving access to the curriculum or an accessible campus. The disability adviser at your college or university can tell you how they might be able to help you. Examples of reasonable adjustments might include: • providing course materials in alternative formats • arranging for full access to the physical environment • extensions to, or flexibility in, coursework deadlines • extra time in exams • adapted accommodation • providing lecture handouts in advance • separate exam rooms • use of a computer or scribe in exams 27
  • 28. Meeting your personal care needs DSA only covers disability-related study costs. The main source of help with personal assistance for your daily living needs is your local social work department. As a disabled person, you have the right to an assessment of needs from your social work department. This assessment should include needs such as practical help at home, attending recreational facilities, and any help needed to take advantage of activities outwith your home. The needs assessment is intended to establish your eligibility for services, what needs you have and which of these needs social work services are able to meet. If you leave home to go to college or university, the funding for personal assistance with your daily living needs should continue to be provided by the social work department where you normally live. You can choose to receive services to meet your needs direct from social work, or you can choose to receive funding to meet your needs through Direct Payments. For further information on Direct Payments, please refer to the Scottish Executive booklet A Guide to Receiving Direct Payments in Scotland - see page 34. If you have been receiving services from your social work department before starting your course, you should arrange with your social worker or care manager to be reassessed, as your needs may well change when you are studying. For example, you may be used to receiving a large amount of assistance from relatives or friends. This support may no longer be available when you to college or university. You should ask for a reassessment as soon as possible before you start your course, as it may take some time to get suitable arrangements in place. 28
  • 29. For further information, see the Skill booklet Personal assistance for disabled students in higher education (available from the Skill online bookshop – see page 36). Healthcare needs In many cases, your needs assessment by the social work department may identify a need for healthcare support in addition to your personal care support. If this is the case, your local NHS board will be responsible for providing that support. 7. Financing your studies It is important to think about your finances before you enrol on a course, to make sure that you can afford to enter higher education. There are various types of funding available depending on what type of course you are doing and your personal circumstances. The information in this section is intended to be used as a general guide - for up-to-date information on funding, including current rates and eligibility criteria, please refer to The Scottish Executive booklet Helping you meet the costs of learning: funding for disabled students – see Page 36 for further details (updated each year). You can also get information and advice from your careers adviser or individual colleges and universities. The following information refers to students taking higher education courses at either college or university. Tuition fees If you are taking a full-time course at college or university in Scotland, you do not need to pay tuition fees (as long as you meet the country of residence conditions). If you are taking a part-time course, you may have to pay tuition fees. However, you don’t need to pay fees if: 29
  • 30. • you, or anyone in your family, receive certain welfare benefits (check Skill Scotland funding booklet for up-to-date information); or • you are a registered job-seeker; or • your family’s sole income is DWP benefits; or • your family’s net income is less than the level for receiving income support. Living costs The main source of help with living expenses will be through the Student Loan. This is income-assessed and the amount you get will depend on your own and/or your family’s circumstances, and whether or not you live away from home during term time. If you are studying part-time or by distance learning, you may be eligible for a smaller student loan from SAAS provided you are studying at least 50% of a full-time course. Other SAAS allowances may be available to some students such as: • the Young Students’ Bursary – an income-assessed non- repayable grant for students under 25 • NHS Bursary – for students taking degrees in the Allied Health Professions • Students’ Outside Scotland Bursary – a non-repayable bursary for new students who are studying a full-time higher education course elsewhere in the UK Funding for disability-related costs The main source of funding for disability-related study costs is the Disabled Students Allowance – see section 5. Other allowances 30
  • 31. There are various other allowances from SAAS which you may be eligible to apply for. These include: • Lone Parents Grant (full-time students only) • Additional Childcare Grant for Lone Parents (full-time students only) • Childcare fund (full-time students only) • Adult Dependents Grant (full-time students only) • Hardship funds • Vacation Grant for Care Leavers (full-time students only) Travel costs You may be able to get funding from SAAS to help with the cost of daily travel to college or university, as well as three return journeys to and from your term-time residence if you are living away from home. You will be required to pay the first £155 of the yearly total. If you have extra travel costs because of your disability, for example if you need to travel by taxi, you can apply to SAAS for the full amount of your travel costs. You will need to provide SAAS with evidence that you cannot use public transport for disability-related reasons. Welfare benefits As a disabled person you may be in receipt of certain welfare benefits. If you have any general enquiries about benefits or to apply for them, you should contact the Jobcentre Plus (see Page 38 for details). Before you start the course, you need to be aware of how studying may affect your benefits. You must inform your local Jobcentre Plus of any major change in your circumstances as soon as it occurs. Benefits which may be affected by studying 31
  • 32. It is important to note that you cannot continue to claim some benefits if you are studying full-time (unless you meet certain conditions – please see the Skill Scotland funding booklet for more details). If you are studying part-time you may be able to continue to receive certain benefits, such as Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Carers Allowance. Benefits which are not directly affected by studying As Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is based on your day-to-day care and mobility costs, your entitlement to DLA should not be affected if you decide to start studying. If you are aged 19 or over, there is no rule that says you are not able to receive Incapacity Benefit while you are studying full- or part-time. However, once the Jobcentre Plus or local benefits office has been told you are studying or are planning to study, they may decide that you are no longer ‘incapable of work’. Obviously, this is not automatically the case. Many people are able to take education courses but are not able to work. So, although starting an education course may trigger a review of your claim, it cannot in itself be used to decide that you are capable of work. Incapacity Benefit can only be withdrawn if you do not pass a test of incapacity. For more information, please see Skill’s information booklet Studying and claiming benefits as ‘incapable of work’. 8. Other services available in colleges and universities As well as thinking about your financial situation, you might also need to be aware of what other support is available if you decide to go to college, such as welfare services or accommodation. Please note that each institution is likely to offer different 32
  • 33. services, therefore you should check with the college or university you wish to attend to find out what they can offer. Accommodation Many colleges and universities have their own accommodation in the form of halls of residence or flats. For those that do not, most institutions will be able to provide you with advice about accommodation matters, such as financial advice or lists of approved accommodation in the local area. If you need adaptations to your accommodation, you should contact the college or university as soon as possible to discuss your needs. Guidance and welfare services Most institutions have trained staff members who can provide advice and guidance on a range of matters, such as course guidance, careers advice, financial issues or personal counselling. Many institutions also offer Chaplaincies and health centres, and you may be able to access additional support through the students’ association, if your institution has one. Study skills support Many institutions offer study skills resources or workshops to help you make the most of your time in higher education. This can be particularly helpful if you have been out of education for a while. Examples might include advice on writing essays, note-taking in lectures, exam preparation or revision tips. You might also be able to benefit from more general workshops such as presentation skills, teamwork and communication skills. Many institutions also offer a wide range of assistive technologies for disabled students, plus appropriate training. 33
  • 34. Students Associations Many institutions will have a Students Association, which is run by students for the benefit of students. Students Associations can offer services such as social and recreational activities, advice and support, and representation if things go wrong. If you become a member of the National Union of Students (NUS), you will be able to get substantial discounts on many products and services, as well as advice and support on a range of issues. Getting involved in your students association will also give you the chance to work with college/university managers to shape the institution’s policies, and the opportunity to influence decisions about the running of the institution. Other services Other services provided by colleges and universities might include: • nurseries/childcare facilities • computing facilities • clubs and societies • sports facilities • buddy schemes • shops/bars You should check with each institution to find out exactly what it can offer. 9. Where to get advice and support College/university prospectuses Most institutions have a prospectus, which gives details about the college/university and its courses. They may also have a Disability Statement or guide which gives information about their provision for disabled students. You can ask the institution to 34
  • 35. send you this information. If your specific needs are not included in this guide, this does not mean the institution cannot provide for them. All colleges and universities have a staff member who is responsible for disabled students, so it is best to speak to them about your individual needs. Campus visits It is very important to visit the institution(s) where you are considering studying. You should arrange to meet with the disability/learning support advisor. They can discuss with you the flexible methods of study, equipment available to help you study, accessibility issues and adjustments the institution can make for you. Careers services Every young person has access to a careers adviser at school, and you can also access advice and support from your local Careers Scotland centre. Careers Scotland services are available to people of all ages, and advisers can be reached in schools, colleges or local centres. Careers Scotland also employ specialist advisers who can provide additional support for people with disabilities. Many young people with additional support needs or disabilities find the support of a Careers Scotland Key Worker helpful when they are thinking about future education, employment or training opportunities. They can also deal with other organisations on your behalf, such as social work departments, health boards or colleges. Key Workers and careers advisers will be able to advise you about different jobs available and the type of training or course required for the job of your choice. They should also be able to tell you about local courses in colleges and universities and direct you to your local careers library. 35
  • 36. Useful resources The following resources may be useful when making decisions about higher education courses: BBC Ouch! Website: Disabled students diaries and experiences of higher education (December 2006) Course Source Website: Search for courses and research opportunities Hot courses Website: Search for courses via the UCAS database Open days information Website: Directory of university and college open days UK course finder Website: Information on finding courses 10. Useful publications Disabled Student’s Guide to University Provides information on individual university provisions. Most directories of higher education courses can be found in careers and local libraries, and bookshops. A Guide to Receiving Direct Payments in Scotland Available at the following website: 36
  • 37. Post-16 Transition in Scotland Available from Contact a Family Scotland, Norton Park, 57 Albion Road, Edinburgh EH7 5QY Tel: 0131 475 2608 Email: Helpful summary of main issues to think about when you are planning to leave school. Free. Student Support in Scotland – A guide for undergraduate students 2007/2008 (SAAS) Available on request from SAAS. Free. Tel: 0845 111 1711 Email: Student Support in Scotland – A guide for postgraduate students 2007/2008 (SAAS) Available as above. The Times Good University Guide 2007 Includes advice and information on bursaries and scholarships, student finance and graduate prospects. Priced. UCAS publications • Big Guide 2008 entry Information about entry requirements, courses and institutions. Priced. Order by telephone: 01242 544 610, or online at: • Scottish Guide 2008 Entry Information about entry requirements, courses and institutions in Scotland. Priced. 37
  • 38. Order by telephone: 01242 544 610, or online at: Skill Publications: Into Series £2.50 each for students and £6.50 each for professionals • Into Architecture • Into Art • Into Higher Education 2008: A guide to higher education for disabled people • Into Law • Into Medicine • Into Nursing and Midwifery • Into Science and Engineering • Into Teaching • Into Work Experience • Personal Assistance for disabled students in higher education: a guide for disabled people To order a publication, go to our online Bookshop at Alternatively, you can contact the Information Service on 0800 328 5050. Skill information booklets Skill produces a range of information booklets. The following are particularly relevant to higher education: • Opportunities in open and distance learning • Understanding the Disability Discrimination Act: information for disabled students • Making a complaint (Scotland) • Funding from charitable trusts • Improving access to the physical environment 38
  • 39. • Assistive technology: sources of help and information • Postgraduate education for disabled students Disabled students or potential students can request up to five free booklets. There is a charge of £2.50 per booklet for professionals. All booklets are available to download free as A4 sheets from our website • Helping you meet the costs of learning: funding for disabled students (2007-08; updated each year). • Employing support workers in higher education: a guide for students and advisors (available from SAAS, Skill Scotland or online at These two booklets are written by Skill Scotland for the Scottish Executive, and are available free from Skill Scotland and Blackwell’s Books. They are also available on the Scottish Executive website. 11. Useful Contacts AbilityNet Scotland – Scottish National Centre PO Box 28423, South Queensferry, EH30 9ZN Tel: 0131 331 6381 Fax: 0131 331 7418 Freephone: 0800 269 545 Email: Website: AbilityNet advises and helps disabled people to access IT. The assessment service is free to individuals, needing advice for computer use at home. Citizens Advice Bureau You can find contact details for your local CAB in the phone book or by searching the directory available at: 39
  • 40. Deaf Connections 100 Norfolk Street, Glasgow G5 9EJ Tel/text: 0141 420 1759 Fax: 0141 429 6860 Email: Web: Direct Government Website: Contains information on higher education and adult learning, such as finding the right course and funding. Disability Rights Commission Freepost MID 02164, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 9BR Tel: 08457 622 633 Text: 08457 622 644 Website: You can email the DRC via a link on the website The DRC Helpline provides information and advice about all aspects of the DDA Dyslexia Scotland Stirling Business Centre, Wellgreen, Stirling FK8 2DZ Tel: 01786 446 650 Fax: 01786 471 235 Helpline (lo-call): 0844 800 8484 Email: Website: Holds register of dyslexia tutors across Scotland Learndirect Scotland Tel: 0800 100 900 Email: Website: Information about courses and offers career advice NHS Education for Scotland (NES) 40
  • 41. Central Offices, 22 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JX Tel: 0131 225 4365 Fax: 0131 225 5891 Website: Centralised body for medical subjects including nursing and midwifery applications in Scotland. NB: If you are a Scottish student, wishing to study nursing or midwifery in England, you need to contact NMAS (Nursing and Midwifery Admissions Service). Details available on the NMAS website: NUS Scotland 29 Forth Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3LE Tel: 0131 556 6598 Fax: 0131 557 5679 Email: Website: Provides information to affiliated student associations in Scotland. The Open University in Scotland 10 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 7QJ Tel: 0131 226 3851 Fax: 0131 220 6730 Email: Website: Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters Email: Website: Relocating in Spring 2007. Check website for details Maintains register of sign language interpreters in Scotland. Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) Gyleview House, 3 Redheughs Rigg, Edinburgh EH12 9HH Tel: 0845 111 1711 Fax: 0131 244 5887 Email: - check! Website: 41
  • 42. Can provide advice about any aspect of funding in Higher Education, including Disabled Students’ Allowance. Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) Customer Service, UCAS, PO Box 28, Cheltenham GL52 3LZ Tel: 0870 112 2211 (open Monday to Friday, 8.30 am – 6 pm) Text: 01242 544 942 Email: Website: Publication orders tel: 01242 544 610 Publications website: Update: Scotland’s National Disability Information Service 27 Beaverhall Road, Edinburgh EH7 4JE Tel: 0131 558 5200 Fax: 0131 558 5201 Text: 0131 558 5202 Email: Website: Can provide contact details for disability-related organisations across Scotland. 42
  • 43. For further information on the issues discussed within this booklet or on other issues around post-16 education, training or employment for disabled people, contact the Skill Scotland Information Service at: Tel/Text: 0800 328 5050 (Monday to Thursday 1.30 – 4.30pm) Website: E-mail: June 2007 43