Lancaster University Disability Service released a statement yesterday (22 November) about the use of Educational Psychology Assessments:
‘The university recognises that assessments for Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) (including dyslexia) can be expensive and we currently provide funding towards the cost of assessments undertaken on campus. Due to limited funds and the numbers of students seeking diagnosis the university contribution towards the cost of an SpLD assessment will be reduced to a 50% contribution from January 2018. This change will allow us to continue to support as many students as possible with the cost of an assessment. However as the total financial contribution towards these assessments each year is limited, there will be no financial contribution available once all funds for the academic year have been used. We will still be able to arrange an appointment for an SpLD assessment, but no financial contribution will be available.’
Disability and equality representatives and LUSU and UCU have not been consulted and we are not aware of any equality impact assessment taking place regarding this decision to cut funding for assessments. Obviously, disabled students who can’t afford the assessment will be worst hit, and losing this support can have a massive impact on their life chances. While we recognise the current scarcity of financial resources, what with the essential new lighting and fountains on campus, it seems a highly dubious decision to make disabled students take the brunt of it. We are very familiar with the old ‘non-disabled fraudsters mean cuts for real disabled people’ myths, and we hope that that tired old nonsense isn’t playing a part in the decision.
There are other ways to triage need and provide lower cost assessments than the ones provided by expensive for-profit dyslexia consultants. Even if we had to make cuts, and the case for that has not been explained or backed up with figures or evidence, then there are a number of people in this University who would be very happy to work with the University to advise them on a more sensible path to follow. The way the University has gone about this is not good and looks unintentionally discriminatory at best.