What is the Study Needs Assessment?

The Study Needs Assessment is an important part of the process of claiming Disabled Students’ Allowance and getting support at university. This article will explain what it is, how it works and how to prepare for your appointment.


The Study Needs Assessment tends to be a structured but fairly informal one-to-one discussion with a Study Needs Assessor which will usually last between one and two hours. The assessment has two main parts – firstly your assessor will ask you for more information about how you study and the areas that you feel you may struggle with. This will include talking about things like carrying out research for assignments, writing essays, taking notes, revising for exams, undertaking practical work, getting around university and more.

The second part will be a chance to evaluate different types of support. This will usually include looking at some different software and equipment and discussing one-to-one support. You will be asked whether you think the support will be useful and be given the opportunity to ask questions yourself, so it’s good to have a think beforehand about any particular areas you are worried about or want more information on.

What to do next?

Book your Study Needs Assessment

Practical tips

Wait until your funding body sends you a letter (Known as a DSA 1) saying your application for DSA has been approved. This will tell you to go ahead and book a Study Needs Assessment. You do not have to pay for this yourself: it is paid for out of your Disabled Students’ Allowance.

There are Assessment Centres throughout the UK where you can have your Study Needs Assessment; it doesn’t matter which University you are going to, or whether you have decided on which one. You can find your local Assessment Centre here. There is also a Needs Assessment Centre at Penryn Campus if you live in Cornwall or have already started your course.

Questions to think about

  1. How do you feel about making notes in lectures, where most of what is said does not end up on a whiteboard or the PowerPoint slides? It is also not possible to write down every word that is said.
  2. Would being able to record lectures help you?
  3. How do you make and organise your notes when reading or revising?
  4. Do you enjoy going to new places?
  5. Do you find new places easily?
  6. Does it help to have someone with you when you go somewhere for the first time?
  7. What are you most excited about when it comes to your course?
  8. What would you like to know more about or might need support to do before you get excited?
  9. How do you feel about group work?
  10. How do you manage your free time?
  11. Are you always on time for appointments without help from someone else?
  12. Do you like to be in busy, lively places or quiet places?
  13. How do you find out about new topics?
  14. Do you find it easy to organise your ideas and structure them in writing?
  15. Do you find academic writing easy? How about spelling, punctuation and grammar?
  16. Would you like somebody to talk to about your autism who has a good understanding of both autism and university?
  17. Do you have any other conditions like dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD?
  18. Does it help you to read information from the internet if you can print it out?
  19. Who supported you with your work at school and what did they do that was helpful?
  20. What helps you when you’re stressed? Music, exercise, art, reading, playing games, talking to others?
  21. Did you use any tools like visual schedules, social stories, coloured overlays, coloured paper or alarms to help you at school or college?
  22. How do you feel about talking to people about your autism, including tutors and other students?

Additional information and links

By the end of the Study Needs Assessment, you and your assessor will have agreed on what support is going to be recommended. The assessor will then write a report giving details of your support and send a copy to you, your funding body and (with your permission) your university. Once your funding body has received this report, they will send you another letter (known as a DSA 2) to confirm which recommendations they agree to fund. This letter will tell you what to do and who to contact to arrange any equipment, software, training and one-to-one support.

If you have any questions about this process and what you need to do next, please email our Accessibility team at accessibility@fxplus.ac.uk

Alternatively, during term time you can come along to an Accessibility drop-in session.