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Funding for Students with Disabilities in Further Education

Introduction
How colleges are funded
The funding arrangements for individuals in further education
Disability related support and funding at local FE colleges
Transport to and from college
Other funding
Independent specialist colleges and funding
Social security benefits
Further information from Skill
Other information sources
Contacts


Introduction

This information sheet is about money that disabled people may be entitled to when they are studying in further education. If you need more detailed information about funding for further education, read Skill's booklet Financial Assistance for Students with Disabilities in Further Education. This costs 2.50 to individual students and 6.50 (inc. p&p) to advisers or other professionals.

Further education means education for people who are older than 16 that is not taught in a school and does not lead to a degree. Further education includes:

 work related courses, like those which lead to National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), General NVQs and BTEC National Diplomas;
 academic courses up to A Level standard;
 basic skills courses, like literacy or numeracy; or independent living skills courses;
 courses that do not lead to a formal qualification, such as independent living skills courses.
 foundation courses that are not an integral part of a degree course.


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How colleges are funded

Local further education and sixth form colleges in England, Wales and Scotland are independently run. They receive most of their funding from government agencies. They are sometimes called ‘sector’ or ‘maintained’ colleges.

In England, further education colleges receive most of their funding from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), previously known as the Further Education Funding Council. The LSC inspects colleges to make sure they ‘have regard to’ the needs of students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities before they allocate funding. The funding body for further education in Wales works in a similar way and is now known as the National Council for Education and Training.

In Scotland, further education colleges receive funding from the Scottish Further Education Funding Council (SFEFC).The SFEFC must have regard to the needs of students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. College boards of management also have a duty to ensure that adequate local provision is made.

In Northern Ireland, colleges manage their own budgets. Colleges have to present development plans to the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL). Colleges are required to identify strengths and weaknesses in current provision for students with disabilities and make proposals for improvements. An Additional Support Fund is available to meet the needs of individual students.

Specialist colleges:
Some independent colleges provide further education specifically for students with disabilities or learning difficulties. These are generally run by charities. They are sometimes called ‘non-sector’ or ‘specialist’ colleges. See the specialist college section in this information sheet for further details.


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The funding arrangements for individuals in further education

Fees

 In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you are able to get free education up to the age of 19.
 In Scotland, you are able to get free education up to the age of 18.

Fee reductions or fee waivers

If you are aged 19 or over and fall into one of the following categories, you should be eligible for a fee waiver (i.e. you will not have to pay tuition fees):
1. you are receiving jobseekers’ allowance (JSA);
2. you are receiving a means-tested state benefit, for example income support or housing benefit;
3. you do not receive a wage and are a dependent of someone who meets either condition 1 or 2 above;
4. you are taking a course which teaches adult basic skills or the course is English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Sometimes individual colleges will also waive or reduce the fees for students that do not meet the above conditions, but who find it difficult to afford their course fees. This is discretionary and you should talk to your Disability / Inclusive Learning / Learning Support Co-ordinator.


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Disability related support and funding at local FE colleges

Colleges (in England and Wales) receive money from their funding bodies to pay for additional support needed by students with disabilities or learning difficulties. The college can use these funds to provide general resources for use at the college, for example additional teaching for dyslexic students, an interpreter for deaf students, materials in alternative formats, specialist computer software and depreciation costs on hardware. Therefore, a disabled student can generally expect his disability-related needs to be met. Sometimes students ask for laptops or personal computers, and although these can be supplied for use at the college, they will remain the property of the college and so students may not be able to take these home. In this situation, you may wish to apply to a charitable trust (please see section on Trusts and charitable support.

 In Scotland, the SFEFC gives extra money to colleges where there are students with disabilities who need extra support.
 In Northern Ireland, the Additional Support Fund is aimed at individual students. It is intended to augment provision already made by colleges for students with disabilities from other budgets.

Unfortunately there are as yet no legal guarantees that a student’s disability-related needs will be met at college, but the situation is improving with the strengthening of legislation (see section on Disability-related support: the legal situation).

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA)
Students studying on courses of further education are not eligible to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs). However, some FE colleges also run higher education courses. Students on these courses may be eligible to help from the DSAs. Please see Skill information leaflet Applying for the Disabled Students’ Allowances for further information.

FE courses at HE institutions

Some further education courses take place at universities rather than at FE colleges. It is worth noting that the university can access additional funding for its disabled students in exactly the same way. For example, some foundation courses run by universities are actually classified as further education. Students on these courses sometimes miss out on disability-related support because universities are not aware they can get this extra funding.


Disability-related support: the legal situation

The Learning and Skills Act 2000 (covering England and Wales) has increased the powers of the state to meet the needs of disabled students in further education. In the last year of compulsory education, an assessment (sometimes known as a transitionary review) must be carried out for all those under 19 who have a Statement of Special Educational Needs and who are likely to go onto further education. This will set out the student’s learning needs and the provision required to meet those needs. Students between the ages of 19 and 25 may also have an assessment whilst they are undertaking a course of further education or if they are likely to start one, regardless of whether or not they have had a Statement in the past. According to the Act, the LSC must ‘have regard’ to the outcome of these assessments, and to the needs of disabled students generally. The Act also talks about the need to ‘promote equality of opportunity between persons who are disabled and persons who are not.’

Part IV of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA 1995), also known as the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act, will come into force in September 2002. From this time it will be unlawful for education providers to treat disabled people ‘less favourably’ than they treat non-disabled people. Colleges will also be required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that a disabled student is not placed at a ‘substantial disadvantage’. Please see Skill information leaflet
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 for further information.

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Transport to and from college

Unfortunately there is no legislation in place as yet to ensure the provision of transport to college for those who need it. However, the Department for Education and Skills recognises that ‘inadequate transport is a major barrier to access to learning’ and whilst they do not have a ‘duty’ to provide transport, several bodies have the ‘power’ to do so.


England and Wales

 Local education authorities (LEAs) may be able to help organise transport for you or help with travel expenses. They are legally obliged to treat further education college students 'no less favourably' than people of the same age studying at their schools and they must publish their policies about transport to schools and colleges. They cannot refuse to help with transport costs on policy grounds without considering your individual circumstances.
 Social Services also have the power to pay for transport to college. This is stated in Section 2 or the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. However, Social Services are allowed to take their resources into account when deciding whether to provide services, including transport.

Your college may also be able to fund transport through its Access Fund (see section on Learner Support Funds).


Scotland

You will need to contact your college to see if you can get help with travel costs through a bursary. College staff should be able to advise you about this as arrangements vary. Colleges are allowed to take into account the income of the student and their parents when working out how much bursary to give.


Northern Ireland

Every case regarding transport to and from college will be considered on an individual basis. Further information is available from your local Education and Library Board.


Future developments

The government is aware of the gap in the provision of transport to college for students with disabilities. It is in the process of conducting a transport study which places particular emphasis on improving the support available to this group of people. When part IV of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA 1995) (covering England, Wales and Scotland) comes into force in September 2002, institutions will be required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled students can study at the same level as non-disabled students. In the Draft Code of Practice that accompanies the Act, the provision of transport has been cited as one of the adjustments that could be considered to be reasonable in certain situations.


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Other funding

Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs)

The EMA is a weekly allowance that aims to encourage more young people to stay on in further education. It is being piloted in 56 areas of the country and is available to students aged 16 to 19. The amount you receive depends on your household income: in most areas the maximum amount is 30 per week. In order to qualify for an EMA, you and a parent or guardian, must sign a Learning Agreement with the school or college, and stick to the steps it sets out. To find out which areas are running EMAs you can contact your local education authority, careers service or visit the Connexions Card website at
www.connexionscard.gov.uk. For details of whether or not you are eligible for the EMA, contact your local education authority.


Learner Support Funds

Each college has a certain amount of money available in Learner Support Funds. These are divided into Access Funds, Childcare Support Funds and Residential Bursaries. A disabled student who is facing financial difficulties may be able to receive help through the Access Fund. It can cover costs such as books, equipment or transport. Each college has its own policy for awarding funds. Contact the Student Advice Centre or Student Welfare if you need advice or help in applying. Some colleges also run a hardship fund or have sponsorships or bursaries to offer any of their students who are facing extreme financial difficulties.


Loans

Students in further education are not eligible for loans under the Student Loan Scheme. Some colleges may offer a loan as part of their Access Fund provision or their own student support funds. You could perhaps get a loan from your own bank or building society, but it is wise to consider repayment arrangements very carefully before doing this.


Career Development Loans

These are available for job-related courses that last up to two years. You can borrow between 300 and 8,000 for fees or other expenses. Repayments begin one month after the course has ended or up to six months afterwards if you are unemployed. More details are available from:
Career Development Loans, Freepost, Newcastle upon Tyne NE85 1BR. Tel: 0800 585 505


Trusts and charitable support

Some colleges have trusts to support students in need. There are also national organisations that help students, including some that specifically help disabled students. See Skill information leaflet
Applying to Trusts for further information or contact your college welfare adviser.

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Independent specialist colleges and funding

If the type of education or support that you need is not available in the local further education college, it may be possible for you to go to a specialist, perhaps residential college. You would need to approach your specialist careers adviser or personal adviser for further assistance on applying (see Skill information leaflet Applying to Further Education for further information).


Who pays for a place at a specialist college?

There is sometimes confusion about which agency should pay for places for people aged over 16 in specialist schools and colleges.


England and Wales

If your disability-related needs can be met at a local ‘sector’ college or school, then it is unlikely that you will receive government funding for a place at a specialist college. However, the LSC has a duty to fund a specialist place for a student under the age of 19 whose needs cannot be met in ‘sector’ colleges or schools. It also has the power to fund a specialist place for a student between the ages of 19 and 25 whose needs cannot be met elsewhere. The LEA will fund a place for a student who stays on at a special school between the ages of 16 and 19, where this is set out in his/her transition plan.

Where the LSC is satisfied that the only way a student’s needs will be met is if they attend a residential college, then it has a duty to fund his/her place (for a student under 19). It also has the power to fund a place at residential college for a student aged 19 to 25. Social Services may pay or contribute towards a place at a residential college in cases where the provision includes a strong care component.


Scotland

You may be able to get funding for a placement in an independent specialist college through a bursary from the education department of your local council.


Northern Ireland

You may be able to get funding for a placement in an independent specialist college elsewhere in the British Isles if your needs cannot be met in a further education college. The funding for a placement would come from your local Education and Library Board.


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Social security benefits

Please note that you will need to notify the benefits agency when you start study as this is a change of circumstance.


Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Generally speaking, study should not affect your Disability Living Allowance as it is a benefit that meets your home needs, and therefore is not related to your study pattern. Two exceptions to this are as follows: if you are attending a residential college where care is provided as part of the service, then the care component of your DLA can be stopped. The care component may also be stopped if you are following a catering course, where this shows that you are capable of preparing a meal.


Income Support

Most full-time students cannot receive Income Support. However, certain students with disabilities may claim this if they fulfill the basic conditions, and certain additional criteria.

Skill produces an information leaflet Income Support for students with disabilities. This goes into much more detail about how you can qualify for income support as a disabled student. Contact Skill’s Information Service for this leaflet.

Housing Benefit

You can claim Housing Benefit and study full or part time. For full-time study, the main ways of claiming are if you qualify for a disability premium and if you receive Income Support. Please note that Housing Benefit is paid to people living in rented accommodation. You cannot get Housing Benefit if you live in accommodation owned by a college, for example halls of residence.

Skill produces an information leaflet
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit for disabled students. This goes into much more detail. Contact Skill’s Information Service for this leaflet.


Receiving benefits as ‘incapable of work’
Students who are under 19 and on Incapacity Benefit are only allowed to do up to 21 taught hours of mainstream education per week. Aside from this, there is no rule that says you are not able to receive Incapacity Benefit while you are studying. However, once the Benefits Agency has been told you are studying or are planning to study, they may think that because you can study then you may no longer be `incapable of work'. Obviously, this is not automatically the case. Many people are able to do courses of education but are not able to work. This may be due to the flexible study and support arrangements that can be made in colleges. Also, some people go into education as part of what they see as a rehabilitation process to prepare them to return to work after the course. Therefore, although education may trigger a review of your claim, it cannot, in itself, be used to decide that you are capable of work.

Skill produces an information leaflet
Studying and claiming benefits as ‘incapable of work’. This goes into more detail. Contact Skill’s Information Service for this leaflet.

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Further information from Skill

Skill produces a number of information leaflets. These are available on the internet at www.skill.org.uk or from Skill’s Information Service.

Disabled students can receive up to 5 of these free of charge, with a charge of 2.50 per sheet thereafter. There is also a charge of 2.50 per sheet for professionals. To receive a full set of information sheets, you can join the subscription service at 30 for members of Skill and 60 for non-members.


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Other information sources

The Educational Grants Directory

Published by The Directory of Social Change. Information on funding by charities and companies. Available from The Directory of Social Change, 24 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2DP. Tel: 020 7209 5151.


Financial help for students. Leaflet for students

published by the Department for Education and Skills. See contacts for the publications telephone number.


Guidance to the Learning and Skills Council on Meeting the Needs of Learners with Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities.

Produced by the Department for Education and Skill.


Learners with Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities: Residential Arrangements, Criteria and Procedures for 2001-02 (FEFC Circular 01/03).

Published by the Further Education Funding Council / LSC. See contacts for LSC helpdesk number.


Money to Learn: Financial Help for Adults in Further Education and Training.

Leaflet for students published by the Department for Education and Skills. See contacts for the publications telephone number.


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Contacts

Benefits Enquiry Line

Tel: (England, Scotland, Wales): 0800 882 200
Textphone: 0800 243 355
Tel: (Northern Ireland): 0800 220 674
Textphone: 0800 243 787



Career Development Loans

Tel: 0800 585 505
www.lifelonglearning.co.uk/cdl/front.htm



Department for Education and Skills (DfES)

Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street
London
SW1P 3BT
Publications: 0845 602 2260
Student Support: 01325 392 822
www.dfes.gov.uk

Information about student support in England and Wales.


Department for Employment and Learning (for Northern Ireland)

Adelaide House
Adelaide Street
Belfast BT2 8FD
Tel (undergraduates): 028 9025 7735
Tel (postgraduates): 028 9025 7699
Fax: 028 9025 7747
www.dhfeteni.gov.uk



Directory of Social Change

Publications Department
24 Stephenson Way
London NW1 2DP
Tel: 020 7209 5151
Fax: 020 7209 5049



Further Education Funding Council (FEFC)

Cheylesmore House
Quinton Road
Coventry
West Midlands
CV1 2WT
Tel: 024 7686 3000
Publications Tel: 0845 6022 260
www.fefc.ac.uk



Learning and Skills Council

101 Lockhurst Lane
Foleshill
Coventry CV6 5SF
Tel: 024 7670 3241
Fax: 024 7658 2738
Helpdesk: 0870 900 6800
Publications Tel: 024 7686 3265
www.lsc.gov.uk



National Council for Education and Training for Wales

Linden Court
The Orchards
Ilex Close
Llanishen
Cardiff CF14 5DZ
Tel: 029 2076 1861
Fax: 029 2076 3163
www.elwa.org.uk



Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities

4th Floor
Chapter House
18-20 Crucifix Lane
London SE1 3JW
Tel/Minicom: 020 7450 0620
Fax: 020 7450 0650
Information Service Tel: 0800 328 5050
Minicom: 0800 068 2422 (open Monday to Thursday 1.30pm-4.30pm)
info@skill.org.uk
www.skill.org.uk

Skill has an Information Service and produces information
booklets and publications covering further education, higher
education, training and careers for people with disabilities.


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