Needs Assessment

Needs AssessmentA ‘needs assessment’ is used by Student Finance England to work out the support you need from the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). The assessment should also help you and your university or college identify important study strategies you can use to enable you to participate in the course to the best of your ability.

The assessment is not a ‘test’ and it is not an assessment of you, it is an assessment of the study aids and strategies that you need.

Midlands Assessment Centre will charge a student’s funding body a single assessment fee. This will cover the cost of all the activities required to support a student with DSA related issues for the duration of their course of study.

During the assessment you will have the opportunity to:

  • Reflect on the effects of disability (this includes long-term medical conditions or dyslexia) on any previous education or training you have taken part in.
  • Consider all the requirements of the current or prospective course; personal research, participation in tutorials and seminars, laboratory sessions, placements, examinations and assessments etc.
  • Explore, evaluate and identify the best strategies to use to overcome the effects of disability on these course requirements. Ensure, as far as possible, strategies of independent studies.

The assessor has a duty to make appropriate recommendations for funding from the DSA based on need.

This may include the following:-

  • The provision of assistive technology (e.g. lap top, printer).
  • Assistive software (e.g. speech recognition, text to voice, mind mapping).
  • Ergonomic equipment.
  • Specialist equipment for visual and hearing impaired students.
  • Hours for non- medical helpers (e.g. study skills, mentors)

Needs AssessmentAfter the session the assessor will often spend a few days researching and writing your report. The assessment report is confidential and only made available to you and Student Finance England. It will not be sent automatically to your college or university unless you specifically request this.

Further information can be found at

For more information about the DSA, please refer to and download a copy of “Bridging the Gap: A guide to the disabled students allowances”. This booklet is available in large print, audio and Braille and can be requested by phoning the publication line on 0800 731 9133 (text telephone: 0800 328 8988) quoting reference SFE/BTGB/V10.