Medical evidence requirements for a diagnosis of a disability or long-term medical condition

Students with a diagnosed disability or long-term medical condition may be eligible for funded support through the Disabled Students' Allowance in addition to any agreed support to be provided by the University. The Education Authority (EA) has confirmed that they require a GP letter signed and on the headed paper of the GP Practice or a consultant’s letter stating a full diagnosis of a condition including the impact and possible treatment.

There can be difficulties when GPs and in some cases consultants do not provide enough information to qualify the student as suitable for funding. The guidance below is designed to support advisers and students to ensure that you obtain the correct medical evidence. The condition must be fully diagnosed in the opinion of the professional to be deemed eligible.

Letters of referral for tests/treatment to determine diagnosis, letters from service providers such as Inspire or letters from medical professionals detailing information provided by the student to them at the time of appointment will not be accepted.

The Education Authority (NI) issued the following guidance in 2015/16.

Evidence of a disability/learning difficulty

The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) help to pay for extra costs you may have when studying your course, as a direct result of your disability, mental-health condition or specific learning difficulty. The allowances can help with the cost of a non-medical helper, items of specialist equipment, travel and other general course-related costs.

To determine eligibility for DSA you will need to forward supporting evidence of your disability or learning difficulty. This evidence will also be used by your assessor when evaluating your needs. The more detailed the evidence the easier it will be to determine eligibility for DSA and for assessing your needs.

Medical evidence

If you are physically disabled or have a mental-health or medical condition, you will need to provide proof of this such as a letter from your doctor or specialist. If you have more than one medical condition, you should provide evidence for all of them. Medical evidence should state the nature of your disability and briefly explain how you are affected by the disability.

The medical information provided should:

  • State diagnosis
  • Briefly outline the effect the disability may have on learning/attendance at university or college
  • State the impact, on normal day-to-day activities. For example, does the condition affect; concentration, motivation, writing for long periods, use of computers, mobility

The above suggestions are not exhaustive and are only examples of the kind of evidence required and doctors or specialists may include any further information that they feel is relevant to the student’s ability to undertake study in further and higher education.

Specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia or dyspraxia)

If you have a specific learning difficulty, we will need evidence of this in the form of an assessment, called a diagnostic assessment, from a psychologist or suitably qualified specialist teacher that has been carried out since you were 16. We will need an update of a previous diagnostic assessment carried out before the age of 16 to see what the likely effect of your specific learning difficulty will be on the skills you need for higher education.

The university or college disability adviser may be able to help you arrange an updated, or new, assessment. If you need a test to establish your eligibility for DSA, but cannot afford the fee, you can apply to your university or college for help in meeting the costs through the Student Support Fund. The university or college disability adviser may be able to help you with this.

If you already have evidence and are not sure if it is detailed enough please send it with your DSA application and the DSA Officer will advise if it is sufficient or if further evidence is required.

Please be advised that any costs involved in obtaining this evidence for determining eligibility for DSA cannot be met by us nor be taken from your DSA funds.