Could The Disability Student Allowance Cuts Actually Be A GOOD Idea?

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The government's announcement it would be slashing funding to support disabled students was not received well by those the scheme endeavoured to help.

Students say the decision may even make higher education completely inaccessible for disabled students from poorer backgrounds.

However one undergraduate, who suffers from epilepsy, says the cuts are a good idea. Why? Because, he says, many students who fall under the disabled category don't actually need the funding - instead making it feel like some kind of compensation for having a disability.

Christian Georgiou is a second-year student at the University of East Anglia, studying philosophy with Mandarin Chinese. He qualifies for the disability student allowance (DSA) because he has a seizure around every three weeks, due to his non-epileptic attack disorder.

Georgiou says his condition drastically effects his studying; "My seizures start with a thumping migraine which makes studying difficult.

"There’s the seizure itself which isn’t fun to deal with (I’ve woken up to ambulance crews or in hospitals on far too many occasions), after which I’m left feeling weak and find it hard to focus at all. The last two in particular ruin any study plans I might have – I find it near impossible to focus on my study until I’ve had some rest."

Despite this, he says he is not in need of the DSA. "Given the nature of my condition there isn’t any specialist equipment I can see myself needing that wouldn’t be covered elsewhere. It would just be free money – as a result, I’ve never taken it down on a moral basis."

Georgiou believes cuts to funding for specialist equipment isn’t "the right way to go" as there are students with certain disabilities who will need equipment in order to achieve their potential. However, he says in cases like his, making cuts is the right choice.

"By qualifying for DSA but having no use for the money, I’m essentially being offered £1700 a year for no specific purpose. There’s nothing it can be spent on that will help my studies or university experience in relation to my disability. As nice as that money would be, it’s essentially free money which I don’t need.

"Even if I were in financial hardship there are other (more relevant) ways to get money – an Access to Learning grant, for example. For these reasons it’s never felt right for me to claim it, and so I never have. It’s not necessary to help with my academic studies. It feels more like compensation for having this disability than a means for giving ensuring I’m on a level playing field other students."

Overall, Georgiou is happy with the goverment's attitude towards disabled students, saying he'd be pleased with the cuts, as long as it provides funding to disabled students in need of equipment.

However the National Union of Students has expressed its "deep concern" at the prospect of the cuts, with its disabled students' officer Hannah Paterson saying: "It is arrogant and out of touch to assume that disabled students can access 'basic' equipment or that universities will accept the new responsibilities ministers are seeking to place on them."

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