Changes are to be made to the Fund for Students with Disabilities

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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The Fund for Students with Disabilities is to undergo a number of changes.  These are as a result of a review of the fund. One of the most significant is that the HEA is set to extend the FSD to part-time students

The number of students with disabilities going on to further education has more than trebled in the last decade. In 2016, the fund helped approximately 10,500 students. Half of these had specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. Around ten percent had multiple disabilities. The FSD offers a number of programmes to assist students. These include supports around exams, extra academic or learning support as well as assisted technology and personal assistants.

Unclear requirements and strict conditions

The review found that the majority of students are happy with their current FSD support. However, 20 percent said that they do not receive the support they need.  In addition, many felt that the eligibility criteria and the application process was unclear.

Both teachers and students stated that there were issues with the strict requirements for diagnosis and supporting documentation. As a result, some students did not receive their supports in a timely manner.

The HEA has set up a working group to implement the changes suggested by the review. In addition to extending the fund to part-time students, the HEA will allocate the funds earlier in the financial year. The HEA will also reserve around 5 percent of the fund for exceptional circumstances. Furthermore, SOLAS will eventually assume responsibility for disbursing the funds in the further education sector.

Anne Sexton

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