Needs Assessment Guide

Students who have applied for disabled students allowances must attend a DSA needs assessment to evaluate the strategies available to support the difficulties they experience. This provides an opportunity for you to discuss the things that feel you are struggling with due to your disability, specific learning difficulty or health condition, and then evaluate the possible strategies available to support these areas.

How long does it take?

The assessment can take up to two hours, though may not take this long – we allow up to two hours as this is sometimes needed and we don’t want you to feel rushed. 

Occasionally the needs assessor will discuss whether it may be beneficial to refer you for a follow up assessment where more specialist equipment will be available to try. This can happen for students who require specific ergonomic items, such as specialist chairs, but can also be the case for students with visual and hearing impairments. This would be arranged for a later date at your convenience.

After the assessment it takes about 3 to 4 weeks for your report to be written and sent to your funding body, and for them to review the recommendations and send you confirmation that they have been approved for funding. You can then order any equipment and book in any one-to-one support.

Can I bring someone?

If you would like to bring someone with you, that’s fine, and that can be a parent or friend. We have plenty of space in our assessment centre and understand that the situation can seem quite daunting for some people. If having someone with you helps you, then please bring them along.

Wherever possible we ask that children do not accompany you to your assessment as it is then understandably difficult for you to give your full attention to the assessor and the support being discussed.

The needs assessment in detail

The first thing to know if that although it’s called a needs assessment, you are not going to be assessed in any way – there are no tests to complete and the difficulties that you may experience are not going to be checked or assessed. Instead you get to assess the different types of support available through the Disabled Students Allowances funding to work out what will be most effective in supporting your difficulties.

The session is guided by a needs assessor, who will help ensure that you have thought of all the possible areas that you may have difficulties, and will then go through the different support options with you. This is likely to include demonstrating some software (have a look here for some examples) and potentially looking at different types of equipment so that you can see whether the support will be useful to you.

How much does it cost?

The assessment will not cost you anything.

Assessment Centres do charge an assessment fee for carrying out the needs assessment and providing follow-up support for the durationof your studies. However, this fee is paid from the Disabled Students Allowance funding meaning that you do not have to pay for it yourself.

Surrey Assessment Centre charge £650 for the needs assessment. We may occasionally be asked to undertake a review of your needs,  which does incur an additional charge, but this is again covered by the Disabled Students Allowance funding.

If you cancel your needs assessment within 24 hours of the appointment, a cancellation charge may be made, which is also paid from the Disabled Students Allowance funding.

What happens next?

The assessor will also explain how the information taken in the session will be used, and who you should contact if you have any questions in the future. You will also be asked if you would like to see a draft copy of your report before it is sent to your funding body.

All of this information, and a summary of the recommendations that have been agreed in the assessment will be documented, and a summary of this will be emailed to you so that you have a record to refer back to.