Information for DSA Needs Assessors

Read the University of Cambridge’s policy on reasonable adjustments in the Code of Practice: Access and Inclusion for Disabled Students.

Throughout your report, record any study support needs which are:

  • the responsibility of the University as the higher education provider
  • not covered by DSA funding

Needs Assessors should include a summary of these needs, for the student to share with us. Do not advise how the support should be supplied or the level required.

Current DSA guidance (section 1.7) from the Student Loans Company states that: 

“The DSAs study needs assessor should not state how the support that is required from the Higher Education Provider should be delivered or the level required”

Non-medical help (NMH) we provide

These are part of our standard provision at the University of Cambridge:

  • practical support assistant
  • library support assistant
  • scribe
  • workshop or laboratory assistant
  • proofreader or text checker
  • reader
  • study assistant
  • examination support worker
  • note taker
  • specialist transcription services 
  • specialist Mentor
  • specialist one to one study skills support

You don't need to provide quotes or indicate hours of support required – we will make that assessment with the student. This reflects Student Loans Company DSA guidance.

Lecture capture or alternative provision is provided. In rare cases students can make their own recordings if they agree to follow the processes in the Agreement for recording of lectures, seminars and supervisions.

Non-medical help (NMH) we do not provide

These are not part of our standard provision:

  • sighted guide
  • communication support worker
  • specialist note taker
  • mobility trainer (orientation)
  • BSL interpreter
  • language support tutor for D/deaf students
  • assistive technology trainer

For these, provide quotes in the usual way.

 We also do not currently provide:

  • personal computer equipment
  • long-term equipment loans
  • free IT training for DSA-awarded software

We do not recommend individual taxi firms. Student Finance England includes Panther Taxis on their approved supplier list. For quotes contact Paul Clare by email:, or by telephone: +44 (0)1223 715 715. State that you’d like to discuss a DSA account.

Academic context

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate university. Each College is a separate legal entity, with its own finances and infrastructure.

Undergraduates apply to a College, where they live and take part in college life. Graduate students apply to and work in departments and faculties but have College membership.

Learn more about:


The type and availability of accommodation depends on which College the student is attending and on their study level. Undergraduates generally live in College accommodation for the duration of their course. Postgraduate accommodation may be private or Cambridge-owned, outside of the main College site.

Colleges manage their own accommodation, and most publish costs. For accommodation information contact the College.


We promote inclusive teaching and learning.

Undergraduate students are taught in their College and in University departments. Postgraduate students are mostly taught and do their research in departments and faculties.

Formal teaching and study hours depend on the subject areas. We do not have direct access to timetables or teaching load – we ask for this after DSA-funded non-medical support has been recommended. So, we cannot supply this information for the needs assessment, but you may be able to get it directly from the department or faculty.

Access information about:

Assistive technology, hardware and software

For the £200 hardware contribution, students can apply for College or University hardship funds. These are means-tested, and not automatic.

There are multiple University of Cambridge computing service providers for students. All Colleges, and some departments and faculties, have their own computing infrastructure.

There is some assistive technology software on shared use computers across the University but not all software is available in all locations.


The University has over 140 libraries, in departments, faculties, colleges and associated institutions. Support varies from library to library according to resources. Learn more about:

ADRC works closely with the University Library Accessibility Service to support students who need alternative formats, document conversions or e-books. Available support at the University Library includes:

  • extended loan periods for books
  • permission to take in food and drink
  • printed materials in alternative formats
  • fetching books from open shelves
  • photocopying and printing receipts
  • electronic catalogue assistance
  • reserved seating
  • support workers may use library and collect materials for students

We also request PDFs of books directly from publishers. All students can create alternative format documents with Sensus Access.