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Student Loans Company (SLC) confirms Disabled Studentsí Allowance framework award

Student Loans Company

July 20
07:45 2023

The new service model applies to students receiving DSA from Student Finance England (SFE) and Student Finance Wales (SFW). It is designed to improve the DSA application journey and service, introducing contractual controls to deliver greater value for money for the student and the taxpayer. The total value of the framework is up to c. 400m over three years with the option to extend for two additional years based on performance.

Capita and Study Tech have each been awarded two geographical lots across the UK. In their respective lot areas, they will be responsible for managing the end-to-end DSA process for needs assessment, the delivery of assistive technology equipment, familiarisation and training, as well as ongoing aftercare.

DSA is additional financial support that can be used to pay for the extra study related costs a student with a mental health condition, long term illness or disability may have. It helps enable opportunity by widening access and participation in higher education. Students have told SLC that the current process is too long and complex, and there is a lack of ownership, with students having to contact multiple companies. The new model has been informed by this insight and will provide students with a single point of contact as one supplier will be responsible for their end-to-end support, for the services above.

David Wallace, Deputy CEO and Chief Customer Officer at SLC, said: This is an important milestone in our journey to improve the DSA service. We are committed to enhancing and strengthening the process to ensure it better meets the needs of students, enabling them to fulfil their potential in higher education.

We look forward to continuing to work with a range of stakeholders including third sector organisations who support disabled students as well as gathering insights from our DSA Student Finance Customer Panel. Our focus remains on delivering an excellent customer experience for all students in receipt of DSA.

SLC will have oversight of the quality of service provided to students in receipt of DSA and through formal performance management, will ensure suppliers deliver against the framework requirements.

Al Murray, CEO for Capita Public Service, said: We are incredibly proud to be able to continue to support students with mental and physical health conditions, long-term illness or any otherdisability through this new contract with the Student Loans Company.

The contract builds on our successful delivery of DSA needs assessment over the last 18 years and reflects the strength and success of our long-term commitment to the education sector and our record of delivery for the public sector.

The new service will help level up education for university students in receipt of DSA, helping empower them and creating better learning outcomes, while removing barriers to much-needed specialist technology.

Glenn Tookey and David Baxter-Williams, Joint Managing Directors at Study Tech, said: It is a privilege to be supporting customers in receipt of the Disabled Students Allowance. Building upon years of know-how within the DSA community, we look forward to playing our part in modernising the DSA and enhancing the customer experience and learning outcomes.

Capita and Study Tech were appointed preferred bidders for the framework in January 2023 following a robust commercial process to ensure a fair, open and transparent procurement.

SLC will continue to closely manage and monitor the provision of DSA supplies and services across the market in the period from the contract award to the transition to the new service model to ensure continuity of support for existing customers.

Students applying for DSA for the 2023/24 academic year should continue to apply as normal and existing support arrangements remain unchanged for continuing students.

Information about applying for DSA is available for students funded by SFE at:

The transition to the new service model will take place in Q1 calendar year 2024, with the date for the full launch being aligned to when customers can begin to apply for student finance for the 2024/25 academic year.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

For further information contact the Student Loans Company press office: 0141 306 2120, press_office@slc.co.uk

The Student Loans Company:

  • Administers student finance on behalf of the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Has 9.4 million customers and manages a loan book of 227.5 billion.
  • Processes almost 1.5 million applications for student finance every year.
  • Paid out 11 billion in loans and grants to new and existing students, as well as 11.5 billion tuition fees to higher and further education providers in 2021/22.
  • Employs over 3,000 staff across sites in Glasgow, Darlington and Llandudno Junction.

Disabled Students Allowance

  • Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) is a grant to help with any extra essential costs students may have as a direct result of a disability, long-term health condition, mental-health condition, or specific learning difficulty. The allowance is non repayable and does not depend on household income.
  • The new service model applies to Student Finance England and Student Finance Wales funded students.
  • SLC will contract, via a multi lot framework, with the two suppliers who will support students through the journey from needs assessment to the provision of assistive technology and assistive technology training.
  • Capita and Study Tech will deliver and own the end-to-end model for this part of the DSA process across four lots, by creating four geographic areas of roughly equal size in terms of the number of DSA applications received in previous years.
  • Non-Medical Help and travel are not within the scope of this framework and this will not change how NMH is provided.
  • Through formal performance management, SLC will be able to set clear standards and hold suppliers to account for their performance and quality against these standards.
  • SLC is establishing a small group of third sector bodies to provide independent validation that suppliers are adhering to the agreed quality standards, and that the agreed quality standards are driving the intended outcome of an improved customer journey.
  • SLC has also established a DSA Student Finance Customer Panel, and its main customer panel includes students in receipt of DSA, to ensure user needs are well understood and represented in the design process.

Geographical lots awarded

Capita will deliver the new service for students funded by Student Finance England and Student Finance Wales in:

  • East England;
  • the Midlands;
  • London;
  • Wales; and
  • Northern Ireland.

Study Tech will deliver the new service for students funded by Student Finance England and Student Finance Wales in:

  • Northwest England;
  • Northeast England;
  • Yorkshire and the Humber;
  • South West England;
  • South East England; and
  • Scotland.

Services provided in Wales will be available in Welsh and English.

CMA allegations

The introduction of formal contractual arrangements between SLC and suppliers of needs assessments, assistive technology and assistive technology training follows respective government decisions. It also follows action taken by the CMA in early 2021, over allegations that existing arrangements gave rise to practices of collusion amongst suppliers over the price of key services and equipment.

SLC response can be read here - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/slc-statement-in-response-to-cma-statement-of-29-january-2021

About Capita

Capita is a leading provider of business process services, driven by data, technology and people. We are a purpose-led, responsible organisation. Every day our 50,000 colleagues help millions of people, by delivering innovative, digitally enabled solutions to transform and simplify the connections between government and citizens, businesses and customers. We partner with our clients and provide the insight and technologies that give time back, allowing them to focus on what they do best and making peoples lives easier and simpler. We operate across three divisions Capita Public Service, Capita Experience and Capita Portfolio in the UK, Europe, India and South Africa. Capita is quoted on the London Stock Exchange (CPI.L). Further information can be found at: http://www.capita.com

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