Save Learning Support Jobs at UCA

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My name is Natasha Benbow and I am a disabled student at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. I recently discovered that my Learning Support Assistant (LSA) and all her colleagues have been given their redundancy notices. I am looking for as many signatures as possible to lobby Professor Bashir Makhoul (Vice-Chancellor for all UCA campuses) and The Board of Governors to reconsider their decision.

I strongly believe that disabled students have to right to the support they need during their time at university. This should not be threatened through no fault of the staff or students. Funding learning support should not be seen as a financial decision but a moral obligation by the university. The university should be enabling their students to achieve their best not putting more barriers in their way, than they already face on a daily basis.

I chose the statement 'nothing about us without us' because I believe the affected students shouldn’t have decisions made for them, without any chance of input or protest. 

The Disabled Student Allowance or DSA (part of Student Finance) changed their requirements two years ago requesting all Learning Support Assistants to be registered. The registration process requires new qualifications which the university will not pay for, however it’s only now that they’re making the redundancies. 

I am particularly concerned for those with mental health conditions and those on the autistic spectrum as they take a long time to build up trust and for that to be taken away would be traumatic. I’m also concerned for those with multiple disabilities like myself where complex needs have to be managed. I suffer from Hemiplegic Migraines (migraines with brain-stem aura), Hyperaccusis (extreme sensitivity to sound), Auditory Processing Disorder and Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).  The students’ needs are very diverse and their current learning support has been individually tailored to fit their needs.

As a student at a specialist arts university I’m worried that whoever might replace them wouldn’t have arts specific knowledge that our current LSAs do, particularly in workshop environments. Some students will be able to go to the DSA for support but I require a note-taker which they no longer fund. I know my grades will suffer if my LSA support is taken away as I need in-class support too. I believe that through the help of my LSA my work has significantly improved and I’m able to reach my full potential. 

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