What assessment he has made of the effect of the self-contribution charge of £200 under the disabled students’ allowance on trends in the level of students applying for that allowance.
Official data shows that there were 4,600 fewer English full-time undergraduate students receiving equipment from disabled students’ allowances. This is expected, because we knew the numbers would fall once students had to pay £200 towards the cost of computer equipment. Evaluation of the impact of this change is currently under way.
The truth is that the number of students in receipt of the disabled students’ allowance for essential equipment has fallen by nearly 30% since the £200 up-front fee was introduced. Given that this charge is clearly preventing disabled students from accessing the essential equipment they need to further their studies, will the Minister commit today to reversing that £200 fee?
I think the hon. Lady misunderstands the situation. The fact that the number of students who are accessing the £200 has gone down does not mean that they are lacking in equipment. The truth is that computer ownership is now common among all students, with students spending on average around £250 on computers. As DSAs are not intended to cover all student costs, we think it is reasonable to ask students to contribute towards the cost of computer equipment.