Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Counselling and Disability Service

The Needs Assessment Process


Below is some brief information about why students need an assessment, what happens at an assessment, how this is different to other assessments, and the timescales of this process. Should you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact the assessment centre for clarification.  

Why is an Assessment of Needs required?

The assessment forms part of your application for Disabled Students Allowances (DSA) funding, which can only be used to pay for specific items and services.  The assessment forms part of the process of working out how the funds should best be used to support you in studying your chosen course, and provides an opportunity for you to evaluate different options.  

The assessment interview is needed in order to compose a “Needs Assessment Report” explaining and justifying the recommended strategies.  Once you and your assessor agree the contents, it will be sent on your behalf to your funding body, such as: Student Finance England (SFE), The NHS, Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS), Student Finance Northern Ireland (SFNI), Student Finance Wales (SFW) or a research council. 

All the recommendations need to be based on–

  •  The disability for which you have applied for under the Disabled Students Allowance


  • The specific demands of the course that you are studying

What happens at an assessment of needs appointment?

You will not be asked to undertake any tests. The assessment is an opportunity for you to discuss your needs with a trained, specialist and impartial assessor.  It allows YOU to assess the different strategies, human support and technology which best suit you and your course and is designed to identify the support needed to help you succeed in your chosen academic studies. 

The assessor will discuss with you the study strategies you currently utilise, possible areas of consideration in your current or future studies and suggest support strategies to assist you. The assessor will also demonstrate equipment and software which they feel might be helpful.

The assessment process is student-centred throughout and you will be given the opportunity to give your views on any of the strategies suggested. Your comments can be incorporated into the Needs Assessment Report.

Please note that the assessment can take up to 2 - 2 ½ hours, depending on how much you have to say, the complexity of your needs, and how many different support and equipment options are discussed.  The average is an hour and a half.

How is this different to other types of Assessment?

You might have had had an appointment with an Education Psychologist or Specialist Teacher, which was also called an assessment and  identified (or diagnosed)  dyslexia or specific learning difficulty (SpLD).  The Needs Assessment will build on information provided in your diagnostic report to suggest how the disability is likely to affect your studies, and what relevant support is available to help you reach your full potential on your course.

Similarly, students with medical conditions might have experienced other types of tests to establish the nature of their disability.  For students with medical conditions or mental health difficulties, other evidence that you provided to your funding body such as letters by a GP, consultant, specialist nurse, or other health professional, could be referred to by the assessor.  

Timescales for the Assessment Process

Step 1

The report produced by the assessor will be quality assured by the Assessment Centre Manager.  We will aim to send a report to you typically within 10 working days of your assessment. On occasions this may take longer, for example if there is a significant amount of follow-up work to be done by the assessor.

Step 2

Once you have received your “Needs Assessment Report” you will need to read it and reply to us, either indicating that you feel some amendments are needed or confirming to say that you agree with the contents. In order to avoid delays, we ask that you do this as soon as possible.

Step 3 (after you receive your report)

Once we have received your approval of the report we will send this to your funding body and the disability support team at your educational institution.  Your funding body will write to you to confirm the support they will fund.   The disability team at your university will be able to assist you with arranging support, or ordering equipment.

What is included in the assessment fee?

Our assessment fee includes the additional needs with which you may present, any activities undertaken by the assessor or centre to review your DSA support (for the duration of the original course for which the assessment was undertaken).  This will include liaison with funding bodies, equipment suppliers, HEIs or other stakeholders for the purpose of review of your support needs (where permission to share data has been given). 

 Students who present with an additional diagnosis during the course will receive a response from the original centre.

Postgraduate and PGCE students may be eligible for a formal Review of their needs, funded through the postgraduate or undergraduate DSA respectively.

All reviews must be authorised in writing by the funding body in advance.

All documentation relating to reviews will be logged and available to view at audit.

This fee is charged to your funding body via the DSA general allowance.


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Contact Us

Email: Access@hereward.ac.uk

Telephone: 02476 426 146

Fax: 0247 669 4305