BATA has called on the Government to add the £200 charge levied on students who receive laptops under the Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs) to their student loan.
The move follows startling new evidence that the charge is deterring students from taking up assistive technology that they have been recommended to use.
Since the introduction of the £200 contribution there has been a 30% decrease in the number of students taking up equipment recommended by professional assessors, BATA’s research has revealed.
Information received following a Freedom of Information request shows that students with specific learning difficulties and mental health issues are the groups most significantly affected by the charge.
Copies of a briefing document prepared by BATA have been sent to all 650 MPs, who have been asked to press the Minister for Universities, Sam Gyimah, to consider including the £200 charge in the loan.
Introduced in September 2015, the charge is a direct barrier to entry into higher education for students with disabilities, BATA believes.
Not only is this group of students the most financially disadvantaged – many disabled students struggle to find the £200 – but disabled students are much more dependent on technology to study effectively than their non-disabled colleagues.
In light of this clear evidence BATA believes the only way forward is to end what amounts to a tax on learning and disability.
The cost would be minimal in terms of the overall budget for higher education but would have an immediate positive impact on the career prospects of a vulnerable and often neglected group of students.