Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about the Needs Assessment process. If you have any other questions not answered below please feel free to contact us.

Will I have to pay for the needs assessment myself?

No, the invoice is sent to your funding body. The funds to pay for the assessment are taken from your Disabled Student Allowance (DSA).

Why yet another assessment when my disability has already been diagnosed?

This session is to determine what type of disability related support you can get through the Disabled Student Allowance to assist you to study effectively, rather than to investigate the nature of your disability.

How long will I have to wait for an appointment?

Our auditing body sets Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for various parts of the assessment process. Accredited centres are obliged to offer an appointment within 15 working days. Even during the busiest periods, RACEL has 100% compliance with this KPI.

Check the current ‘waiting time’ on the Making a booking page of our website. It’s usually within a couple of days and we can sometimes even offer appointments within the same day!

What evidence do I need to provide for my needs assessment to take place?

You will need to provide your chosen Access Centre with the following:

  • The confirmation letter from your funding body authorising your assessment.
  • A copy of your Diagnostic Report and/or Medical Evidence. 
  • A completed pre-assessment form.

What happens if I miss my appointment?

If you believe you will struggle to make your appointment due to illness or for any other reasons, please let us know, preferably a few days before the appointment, so that way we may be able to offer someone else your appointment slot. 

If you fail to notify us that you will not be able to attend or do so at short notice (within 48 hours), then there may be a cancellation fee charged to your DSA funds.

Will I have to do any tests?

No, we’re simply finding out what support you need. It is a more relaxed environment than you may have experienced at medical assessments.

What if I disagree with the recommendations in your assessment?

In the first instance you should discuss any points you're unhappy about with your assessor. If you and your assessor fail to agree, you may then take this up with the Centre Manager or alternatively speak with your funding body. You may find it helpful to know that our centre is staffed by independent professionals and is a member of the Independent Assessment Centres (IAC).

Will my funding body agree to everything you recommend?

Your Study Needs Assessment report is an account of the discussion between yourself and your assessor. The recommendations that stem from this are a combination of this discussion, the assessor’s knowledge and experience, plus the guidelines within which these recommendations can be made and the medical evidence you submitted with your DSA application.

Your funding body is the final arbiter of the DSA fund and can change or reject any recommendation made by your assessor. Your assessor will however be happy to appeal any recommendations that have been refused in the event that this situation occurs.

How long will it take to receive my DSA support?

We endeavour to send your Study Needs Assessment report to your funding body within ten working days (providing all information has been received at the time of the assessment). You do have the option of receiving a draft copy of your report to review, before it is sent to your funding body. However, please note that choosing to receive a draft copy of the report can add up to five working days to the processing of your report.

Your funding body will aim to review the Study Needs Assessment report and make their decision within ten working days of receiving the report. They will then send you a DSA's entitlement letter outlining the support which has been agreed for you and how to access it.

You will then need to contact the agreed suppliers to set up and receive your support.

Can I request extra support that may become available after my assessment?

Yes, but you need a disability related reason for requesting the support i.e. the requested support should be necessary to alleviate difficulties caused by your disability/SpLD in relation to your studies.

Contact us and formally request the support you feel you need. In order to make the request, we may require you to provide further evidence.

Can I be refunded for equipment already purchased?

No, since January 2013 any equipment purchased prior to your needs assessment will not be refunded by your funding body.

Do I have to return the equipment once I have finished studying?

No, it’s yours to keep.

Useful links

Information for Students


How to apply for the DSA

The course you are studying and where you live in the UK determines which funding body you will need to submit your DSA application to. Please find below a list of funding bodies which have been linked to their home pages.

How to find your closest Needs Assessment Centre

If you have been agreed a Study Needs Assessment, please see the link for information on how to find your nearest or preferred Needs Assessment Centre.   

Bursary information for the University of East London

The University of East London can possibly assist with the payment of £200 towards DSA equipment. Please click on the link to access the University of East London’s bursary forms and guides.

Snowden Trust

If you have a physical or sensory disability the Snowden Trust may be able to provide additional funding to assist you while studying. For further details please select the link to access the Snowden Trust website.

How to obtain an assessment to be diagnosed with a SpLD

If you believe you may have a Specific Learning Difference and wish to investigate this, you can find additional information on the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee website, or, you can use the PATOSS Tutor Index to find a local PATOSS registered Diagnostic Assessor or freelance tutor. 

For more information on how University of East London students can obtain an assessment through the University, please contact the Disability & Dyslexia Team on or via The Hub on 020 8223 4444.


Information for Practitioners

SFE's Practitioners site:

Practitioners supporting students in higher education can find further information about the Disabled Students Allowance by clicking on the following link to Student Finance England's website.