Welcome to DSA-QAG

History of DSA-QAG

Prior to 1990, disabled students in higher education would receive a small, non-means tested additional grant payment to help pay for extra costs during their course. However, this payment was proving to be insufficient for some students and in 1990 extra payments for equipment and non-medical helpers were introduced.

Local authorities according to need, and based on evidence provided by the student allocated these new payments. Local authorities were not experts in this area, and over the next few years a number of bodies were set up to assess the support needs of disabled students and enable local authorities to judge more accurately what was equitable.

By the late 1990s it became clear that a process was required to ensure that the assessment centres and Assistive Technology Service (ATS) providers involved in the scheme met certain minimum standards.

A Quality Assurance Group (QAG) was set up by the then Department for Education and Skills (DfES), now known as the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). By 2004 a Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) was developed and launched, and audits of assessment centres and ATS providers began.

Initially, Manchester City Council administered Disabled Students Allowances Quality Assurance Group (DSA-QAG), but in order to establish a firm legal status it was agreed in 2006 that DSA-QAG should incorporate and become a non-profit making Regulatory Company Limited by Guarantee called DSA-QAG.

In 2008 DSA-QAG applied and gained charity status in October 2008 for England and Wales

What DSA-QAG Do - The Audit and Accreditation Process

In order to ensure that students receive a high quality of service in the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) process, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) recommend that funding bodies, Open University and local authorities use only those assessment centres and Assistive Technology Service (ATS) providers who have registered with the Disabled Students Allowances Quality Assurance Group (DSA-QAG).

To become a registered member of DSA-QAG, assessment centres and ATS providers need to meet criteria specified by DSA-QAG. These are laid out in the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) for assessment centres and ATS providers.

Annual organisational audits aim to ensure that organisations involved are providing the services they subscribe to, and at an acceptable quality and in a proper manner.

Our aim is to safeguard the public interest, to monitor the quality assurance system, to inform and to encourage continuous improvement in the management of quality in the sector through setting up a good practice framework and carrying out annual audits to maintain the desired quality standards. We do this by working closely with assessment centres, ATS providers, the student's funding body, Open University and student organisations to define standards and quality, and we carry out regular reviews against those standards.

DSA-QAG are not involved with quality assuring the contents of assessments reports produced by qualified assessors within registered assessment centres, nor does it have the remit to be involved with funding awarded by any funding body. These areas are dealt with specifically by the appropriate body.

DSA-QAG Hold Information On All NMH (Non-Medical Help) Providers

Although DSA-QAG does not quality assure NMH providers, in 2014 they were asked to standardise information on NMH providers. There were previously two NMH databases in operation, the NNAC wiki and the CLASS system, which both held information on NMH providers. The sector requested DSA-QAG centralise these two databases into a single system, to allow DSA needs assessors access to accurate and up to date information for NMH providers who offer services to DSA students. Links to all NMH providers information will be held on the DSA-QAG website, all enquiries should be addressed to NMHdatabase@dsa-qag.org.uk

The information for each NMH provider is held in a consistent format, in accordance with Student Finance England’s NMH bandings introduced in 2014.




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