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Changes to the Higher Education Disability Support Program

The Australian Government Department of Education recently emailed relevant Table A education providers announcing changes to the Other Grants Guidelines (Education) 2012 and the amended guidelines are now available on the Federal Register of Legislation.

The Guidelines have been amended to reform the Higher Education Disability Support Program (DSP) from calendar year 2020. The changes to the DSP are a continuation of earlier work undertaken, including an evaluation of the program in 2014 and consultation with the sector during 2016.

Key changes to the DSP are:

  • The former components of Additional Support for Students with Disabilities (ASSD) and Performance-based Disability Support funding have been merged to create the Disability Support Fund (DSF), which will allocate funding through both claims-based and formula-based models.
  • Eligible activities have been expanded to provide greater flexibility for the nature of support costs that can be claimed. Under the DSF, providers will be able to provide staff training to support students with disability, and modifications to course content, teaching materials and delivery methods.
  • The Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) will receive an increase in annual funding to $150,000 per annum from the current funding level of $79,900, to provide for an enhanced role for ADCET in its promotion of inclusive teaching and learning practices.
  • In response to feedback provided by the sector, the changes ensure that students with disability with high costs needs are adequately supported. Under the DSF, providers will be able to claim reimbursement for students whose needs exceed $10,000 in a calendar year.

What does this mean for Table A higher education providers?

The changes will significantly reduce the administrative burden on providers. Providers will only need to claim for educational support and equipment provided to students with disability with high cost needs (over the $10,000 threshold) using a simplified claim form provided by the department.

The new program commences on 1 January 2020. To facilitate this, before the end of 2019, the department will provide the sector with information to enable them to start collating 2020 expenditure in a way to reflect the new program guidelines. For the 2020 calendar year, this will include keeping a record of expenditure on activities such as:

  • staff training undertaken in the 2020 calendar year to support students with disability
  • costs associated with modifications to course content, teaching materials and delivery methods
  • educational support and equipment costs over the $10,000 threshold.

Providers will need to submit such records to the department in early 2021 for reimbursement of the provider’s 2020 expenditure.

Funding allocations for 2019 and 2020

Providers will receive 2019 calendar year funding allocations, which are based on their 2018 claims, under current program arrangements – and these will be paid before the end of this year. For the 2020 calendar year, for claims based on 2019 activities, funding allocations will be calculated using the current Performance-based funding formula. Providers will also need to submit Additional Support for Students with Disability claims for educational support and equipment, over the current $500 threshold, to the department by 1 May 2020.

Any questions regarding the changes can be directed to disability@education.gov.au