Green Party slams decision to cut Disabled Students' Allowance
The government’s decision to cut a support grant, leaving many disabled students at universities and colleges without practical campus support has been slammed by the Green Party who believes education should be open to all.
The Disabled Students’ Allowance currently helps 53,000 disabled students pay for non-medical and technological support. The government’s plans for the allowance amount to a £70 million cut to support for disabled students.
Joseph Johnson, minister of state for universities and science, provided a written answer to parliament on Wednesday (02 December) explaining that Disabled Students' Allowances will be cut, meaning that IT support, alongside reading, proof reading and scribing support would be significantly reduced. It is predicted that the cuts to IT support will particularly affect disabled prospective students over the age of 35, who may possess lower IT skills and may be deterred from applying to study at college of university after 2016, when the cuts will be come into effect.
The Green Party’s disability spokesperson, Mags Lewis said:
“There seems to be an expectation from the government that if higher education cannot or does not plug the gap, it may be up to the individual student to make up the difference. Disabled students may fall into a no man’s land, with the government, DSA and colleges and universities claiming it’s everyone else’s responsibility.
“There is no mention of funding being transferred to higher education, so we have a potential bureaucratic mess, with students with less acute disabilities being abandoned by the DSA and some HE establishments who might say that they do not have resources.
“Poorer, less advantaged students at cash strapped universities will be the hardest hit by this decision. Sadly some students will drop out and some potential students won’t enrol.”
Dave Cocozza, spokesperson for higher and further education of the Green Party, said:
“We welcome views from students likely to be affected by these cuts to ensure they are fed into the government’s ongoing consultations. The Green Party will continue to oppose them.”