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How do I apply for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)?

You need to apply to your funding body. Click here to find out how to do so.

Why do I need a Study Needs Assessment?

Your funding body will require a DSA needs assessment to be carried out so that your individual needs can be explored in relation to your proposed course, ensuring that you get the necessary support.

Statistically, students who have a needs assessment and access their support through DSA, perform academically better than eligible students who do not access their DSA.

What is the DSA1 Eligibility Letter?

This is the letter/email you receive from your funding body after applying for Disabled Students Allowances. It will have on it you unique customer reference number.

What is my medical evidence?

This is the medical document you sent to your funding body when you applied for Disabled Students Allowances. Examples include; an Educational Psychology Report or Doctors Letter.

How can I arrange my assessment?

If you have already applied to your funding body for Disabled Students’ Allowances and have received an entitlement letter, you can begin the booking process here.

Alternatively you can contact us directly via livechat, phone: 01244 513216 or email us on

Can I bring someone with me to the assessment?

You are very welcome to bring a friend, family member or advocate along with you. The majority of students prefer to have their assessment on a one-to-one basis with the assessor, but feel free to speak to a member of the team if you prefer to have somebody in the actual assessment with you.

What do I need to bring with me to the assessment?

You will have provided your medical evidence and eligibility letter in advance of the assessment.

It would be helpful if you could bring along any portable equipment you use, e.g. mobile, tablet, laptop, etc. to your Assessment, but this is not essential. If you wear glasses, or use hearing aids, it would be helpful if you brought these with you.

I have been asked to provide the model and specification of my computer – how do I find this information?


Windows 7: go Start menu>right-click on ‘Computer’>choose ‘Properties’.

Windows 8 or 8.1: point to the top-right of the screen until the Charms bar appears>click ‘Settings’>choose ‘PC Info’. Please note down the CPU and RAM details and the make and model of your laptop. This can usually be found in full on the reverse of the machine.


On the Apple menu (top-left of the screen), choose ‘About this Mac’.

The resulting window should show you the information you need including processor speed, memory, and graphics card information. Please also note down the model and serial number.

What happens during the assessment?  

This will be an informal meeting with a professional assessor who will have specialist knowledge relevant to your disability or specific learning difficulty. During the meeting you will discuss the impact your disability has on study. Click here to find out what happens on the day in more detail.

How long does an assessment take?

On average, the duration of a needs assessment is around 1.5 hours but this may be longer depending on the complexity of your needs and the nature of support required. Your assessor will be able to give you a more detailed indication before your appointment takes place.

Will the assessment process have any cost implication to me personally?

No, the assessment will be funded through the general allowance within your DSA. The funding body will pay the centre once they have received the report.

The assessment fee is fully inclusive of the service that ATOP Ltd provides throughout a student’s course. This includes the initial meeting with a needs assessor, the writing up of a needs assessment report, liaising with the funding body on equipment and support recommended, additional queries from the student regarding additional needs and feedback on the assessment process at two points during the course. Students presenting additional medical evidence during their course may be eligible for a review of needs Our team can provide assistance in arranging approval for this.

In line with current government guidelines, students may be required to contribute £200 towards the cost of any recommended computer equipment. This will depend on who your funding body is. Students who are required to pay the £200 contribution may be entitled to receive support from their university or college and are advised to speak to the disability officer regarding this.

What happens if I Opt In to see a copy of my draft report?

If you Opt In to receive a draft copy of your report this will be sent to you 5 working days after your assessment meeting. You will be asked to respond to the report within 3 working days. If you do not respond within 3 working days the report will be sent to your funding body and any other third parties as a final report.

What happens if I don’t want to see a copy of my draft report?

If you Opt Out of receiving a draft copy of your report, after 5-10 working days of your meeting it will be sent straight to your funding body and agreed third parties. You will also receive a copy of your final report.

What happens after the assessment?

Your final report will, under normal circumstances be sent to you within 10 working days after you have attended your assessment. It can be sent directly to your funding body at the same time or can be sent to you first in the form of a draft copy.

You should receive a DSA2 Entitlement letter from your funding body within 10-15 working days of receiving your final report from ATOP Ltd. They will confirm what recommendations have been approved and instructions on how to put in place your support.

Click here to see what happens after the assessment in more detail

How do I get my equipment?

You will be sent a DSA2 Entitlement letter from your funding body detailing what support has been recommended. You will need to contact the named suppliers who will ask you for a copy of this letter.

How do I organise the training recommended in my report?

Arrangements vary, but it is important to arrange any recommended training as soon as your equipment is delivered so that you benefit from it as much as possible. Your DSA2 Entitlement Letter will provide details of the chosen assistive training provider.  The assistive training provider will need a copy of your DSA2 letter before arranging to provide your training.

What if I want to upgrade the equipment I was recommended?

If you choose to upgrade any of the equipment that we recommend, you are likely to occur some additional costs. We recommend that you contact your supplier for further information.  You will find the name of the selected supplier within your DSA2 Entitlement Letter.

Do I have to tell my University of College about my Disability?

No. You can still get DSAs without telling your university or college, but it’s helpful if they know so you get all the support you need.

Under the Equality Act 2010, it’s unlawful for universities and colleges to discriminate against disabled students by treating them less favorably when offering places and providing services. Under the act, universities and colleges must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so disabled students aren’t significantly disadvantaged compared with other students who aren’t disabled.

What do I do if I want to complain?

If you have any concerns about your assessment or the process please access the ATOP Ltd Complaints Procedure. We take all complaints very seriously and will work to support you through our complaints procedure if required.

What is an Inclusive Fee Review

An Inclusive Fee Review is a review of your support under the single fee agreement. In addition to this ATOP Ltd will conduct two separate reviews once your assessment has been completed.  These reviews will be six months after the assessment date and six months prior to completion of the course. ATOP Ltd will send you an email at the relevant dates with regards to the two reviews. No charger to the funder is made for this.

What is a Funded Review?

A ‘Funded Review’ is different to a full new assessment but still has the same quality assurance procedures and policies applied. You may need to attend for a funded review if since your last assessment you have a new condition, move from an undergraduate course to PGCE or non-taught Postgraduate study; If there is a gap of more than 2 years since you last studied; or if you have not had a full assessment or funded review for 5 years. Your funder will issue you with a letter asking you to contact the original assessment centre to arrange the review.

Will I be charged for the Funded Review?

No, the fee for the funded review will be deducted from your Disabled Students Allowance.  The maximum fee the centre can charge is £300 plus vat. The charge will depend on the amount of work the centre is required to undertake. The centre will send an invoice directly to the funder once the review report has been sent.

What if my original Centre is too far away for me to travel?

Depending on your reason for a funded review the assessment centre may be able to conduct a Skype or telephone review.  For more information on funded reviews contact the admin team or via live chat.

What is an Individual Student Response (ISR)?

All DSA assessments are conducted at DSA Registered Assessment Centres. If under exceptional circumstances due to your disability this is not possible the centre can request that the assessment takes place at an un-audited location.  For example, your home address. ISR assessments can only be booked once the permission for the assessment has been received from the funder.