Study Needs Assessment
Frequently asked questions about the DSA Study Needs Assessment process
What is a Study Needs Assessment?
The purpose of the Study Needs Assessment is to identify study aids and strategies required to provide equal access to the curriculum, within the context of a chosen course of study.
The Centre undertakes Study Needs Assessment for any student who has applied for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA). You do not need to be a student at Lancaster University to have your assessment here.
If you undertake your assessment with us you can expect:
- an assessment based upon your individual requirements by an assessor who understands the demands of higher education
- a wide range of assistive technology available for you to see and try during the assessment
- guidance with any stage of the DSA and assessment process, including help with ordering your equipment and arranging supplementary funding requests.
Who will pay for my assessment?
Most assessments are funded through the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) scheme. If you want to be assessed for DSA funding, you should contact your higher education funding body, which is usually Student Finance England but may be another body - NHS, SAAS, EPSRC, etc). They can give permission for you to be assessed and confirm your DSA eligibility, including that they will cover the cost of the assessment.
We charge an inclusive fee (paid by your funding body from your DSA) which covers the assessment, the report, and any updates or changes to your needs for the duration of your course.
You will need to provide the funding body with up-to-date evidence of your disability, such as an educational psychologist's report or a letter from your doctor or consultant.
Once you receive written approval of DSA eligibility, you can contact us to make an appointment.
How do I book an appointment?
When you are ready to book your appointment, contact us by phone, email or ask for us at Lancaster University's student enquiry desk, The Base, located on Alexandra Square next to the Library.
The Disabled Students’ Allowances Quality Assurance Group (DSA-QAG) key performance indicator for appointments is 15 working days. We aim to offer you an appointment within this timeframe, although it may be longer during particularly busy periods of the year.
If we cannot give you an early appointment, we can direct you to another centre that may be able to see you sooner.
- NB: We can currently offer appointments within 4 working days (January 2020).
We will ask you for a copy of the letter from your funding body confirming that they will fund the assessment, and a copy of the medical evidence or educational psychologist report that supported your application for DSA.
We will also ask you to complete a pre-assessment information form and a consent form and return these to us before the assessment. Do contact us if you would like some help completing the forms. We require this paperwork before the assessment so that the assessor is able to make appropriate preparations.
In your appointment letter, we will let you know the time of the assessment and where within Lancaster University it will take place.
Assessments take place at Lancaster University. Current Lancaster University students will be directed to go to the Base in University House. Non-Lancaster students or pre-entry students will be directed to come to the main reception in University House. Tell the staff at the desk that you have arrived for you appointment, and a member of the Centre staff will come to meet you and take you to the assessment room.
What happens at an assessment? Do I have to take another test?
The assessment is carried out by a DSA Assessor working within the guidelines provided by the Disabled Students’ Allowances Quality Assurance Group (DSA-QAG). No tests are involved in the assessment. The Assessor records information about your educational history, how your disability affects your studies and any current support arrangements you may have. You will be offered a hot or cold drink.
Your Assessor will explore different support options with you and together you will come to a conclusion about the study aids and strategies most appropriate to your needs. These will form the basis of the recommendations in our report.
The assessor will discuss with you whether you wish to see a draft of the report before it is sent to your funding body. This gives you the opportunity to check that the report accurately describes your needs and reflects the expected outcome of your assessment. It also provides you with an opportunity to comment on the report and discuss any amendments before the report is issued.
What support can be recommended?
Depending upon your individual support needs, recommendations may include:
- computer equipment and assistive software
- a recording device
- the services of a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter
- additional photocopying costs
- special exam arrangements
- assistance with library work such as scanning material
- practical assistance, such as help carrying books, taking notes or laboratory support
- one-to-one tuition for dyslexia
- a learning mentor.
What happens after the assessment?
If you have already started your course, explain to the disability adviser at your university that you have had a Study Needs Assessment, as there may be temporary support available such as loan equipment.
After your assessment, the assessor will write the report. The DSA-QAG key performance indicator is 10 working days and we aim to send the report to you within this timeframe.
If you have requested to see a draft of your report, we will await your comments. If we do not hear from you within five working days we will finalise the report and issue it to the funding body. Unless you indicate otherwise we will also send a copy of the report to the disability officer at your university.
Your funding body will consider our report and make their award accordingly. If they decline funding of any recommendations, they will contact us for further information or to get new equipment quotes.
Once the award has been made, they will write to you outlining what funding has been awarded and what to do to acquire any equipment and arrange other support.
If you have any difficulties at any stage of the process, we are happy to assist you so please get in touch.
What if I am unhappy with the service?
Sometimes things do go wrong. If you are unhappy with the service you receive from the Centre, please tell us. If we can't resolve the issue satisfactorily, please consult our Assessment Centre Complaints Procedure for details of how to escalate your complaint.
Is the Assessment Centre accredited?
Lancaster University Assessment Centre is a member of the National Network of Assessment Centres (NNAC) and is audited and accredited by Disabled Students’ Allowances Quality Assurance Group (DSA-QAG). This ensures comparability between the quality of assessments carried out by different Centres.
How will the Assessment Centre look after my data?
When you come to the Centre for your DSA Assessment you will need to share with us some very personal information in order for us to be able to assess and report on your DSA needs. Any information you share with us will be stored securely and only staff of the Assessment Centre will have access to it. A copy of your final assessment report will be sent to your funding body (who will have previously agreed to fund your assessment through your DSA.)
We will ask for your explicit consent before we share any data with your university (except in the case that the university has funded the assessment.) Although we strongly recommend that you either allow us to share the report with your university or that share a copy yourself with your university, to help them put in place the services that you need.
We will also ask for your explicit consent before sharing any of your personal data with DSA-QAG – the organisation that is responsible for quality within the DSA system. They need to quality audit reports as part of an annual audit cycle but your data will only be included in any sample if you have consented.
If you have any concerns about the way we store, process and share your data please contact the Centre directly.
You can find out more by following this link to our Privacy Statement.