Posted on 24th May 2016

Autism&Uni joins Disabled Students Stakeholder Group

Autism&Uni has been invited to represent the views and interests of autistic university students on a stakeholder group that advises and supports the Student Loans Company (SLC).

The purpose of the Disabled Students Stakeholder Group (DSSG) is to:

  • Review and monitor the application processing arrangements for the service to disabled students at key points in the annual application cycle in order to #
    • bring external insights and experience to bear in identifying and resolving issues,
    • raise concerns and challenge processes,
    • support SLC through joining-up communications to students and any other appropriate actions to help achieve the smooth delivery of the Disabled Students Allowances (DSA) service.
  • Provide specialist input into the Information, Advice and Guidance developed specifically to explain DSA.
  • Review changes and improvements to the DSA service to gain the expert advice and input of stakeholders regarding the design of changes and improvements.

The group noticed a significant increase in DSA applications from autistic students and felt that these students would benefit from direct representation in the stakeholder group meetings. Marc Fabri, project leader for Autism&Uni, already advises the Student Loans company on Assistive Technology matters and was invited to join the DSSG.

The group meets quarterly with more frequent communication, as necessary, during peak periods in the academic cycle, e.g. at the beginning of the academic year when the backlog of DSA applications needs to be closely monitored. Autistic students in particular benefit greatly from having support in place right from the start of their studies, and the smooth processing of a DSA application is critical here.

One aspect of managing DSA support effectively is regular reviews – many students do not actually know what support they will need until their course has started and they have settled into their new routine. So whilst some support needs to be in place from day one, other support may be added later as needed, or earlier identified support may turn out to be inappropriate. The DSA application and review process therefore ought to be flexible enough to help students fine-tune their support requirements over time.