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Dyslexic students treated unfairly in allowance assessments says Lord

By Alex Smith

DYSLEXIC STUDENTS are treated unfairly when applying for Disabled Students Allowances at university, according to a member of the House of Lords.

Lord Addington, who is president of the British Dyslexia Association, was highly critical of the current system, as dyslexic students who have already been assessed earlier in life, must be reassessed in order to receive DSA.

In the House of Lords on November 13, Lord Addington questioned why dyslexic students had to have additional assessments, of up to £600, when other disabled students did not.

Lord Addington later said: “It’s a lifetime condition. You go through having a second assessment just to prove that you still have the condition, when you have already had an assessment earlier in life.

“You don’t need it. It’s a bureaucratic waste of time just to get extra money into the assessor’s pocket.”

Lord Addington expressed concern that the assessment cost, and the cost of the specialist equipment, would put some dyslexic students off applying for help, which could impact the quality of their degree.

He said: “It should be a case of looking to see if a person has learned to live with the condition, and if they still need extra help.

“It’s actually a depressingly straightforward solution.”

However, Vicky Ringer, dyslexia assessor and co-director of Yorkshire Dyslexia, which conducts dyslexia assessments in the Yorkshire area, does not see a problem with the current system.

She said: “We find as assessors that it is important to have a reassessment in case the student’s circumstances have changed since their first assessment.

“I think it helps them understand their learning profile, strengths and weaknesses, and helps the university see what help they need.

“For the student, it’s nice to compare the updated assessment to their previous one and see what improvements they have made and if there’s anything they need to work on.”

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Agnew of Oulton, a parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Department for Education, said: “Specific learning disabilities are treated separately.

“In a working paper in 2005, where the British Dyslexia Association was part of the consultation group, the view then was that progress into higher education represented a major transition and that more adult-based assessments should therefore be used.

“All students are required to prove their eligibility for DSA. This applies to all students, including those with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia.”

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