JDRF is calling for universities to do more to help students with long-term health conditions, including type 1 diabetes, access crucial financial support through funding.
The UK government’s Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) provides specialised, personalised support to see students with all disabilities through their studies. But many students with ‘invisible’ health conditions are often under the impression that you can only apply if you have a physical disability.
A DSA grant can go towards specialist equipment, personal support, non-medical helpers or travel costs – JDRF alerts students to this with its University Toolkit, created alongside Diabetes UK and NHS England.
Financial support in the form of DSA can make a big difference when it comes to someone with type 1 diabetes trying to decide whether to go to university.
It can take up to 14 weeks to get DSA support in place therefore JDRF is urging universities to alert students with long-term health conditions to the fact that they can access DSAs earlier on in the process when applying for university.
While the onus is on students with type 1 diabetes to declare this themselves – many don’t – as Dan Farrow, Head of Community Engagement at JDRF explains: “Asking for help and declaring a health condition takes confidence, and we know that when a serious health condition is non-visible, it can be tempting to hide it.
“This is particularly concerning for students with type 1 diabetes who are not only missing out on funding but are worried about telling new friends they make that they have the condition when they get to university. This is something our University Toolkit also helps with.
“However, for students with type 1 diabetes, this issue is compounded further by the fact they are more likely to drop off the radar of their healthcare team and miss out on crucial clinic appointments.
“Universities therefore need to work closely with local health teams to ensure students know where their local clinic, hospital and pharmacy is – so they are better prepared when starting.”
According to the Department of Education’s Evaluation of Disabled Students’ Allowances, carried out in January 2019, students in receipt of DSA are 91 per cent more likely to continue their course than those who are eligible, but are not in receipt of it.
The allowances are worth up to £5,684 and based on individual need, not household income.
For a student with type 1 diabetes, this could allow them to pay for additional costs in order to manage their condition – such as a fridge in their room to store insulin, travel costs for appointments at diabetes clinics, or even life-changing medical technology.