Ultima blog

Farewell, Ultima Education, hello Ultima Works

On February 26th 2024, the Student Loans Company finally launched its new framework for the delivery of services funded through the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA). Under this new framework, there will be only two suppliers for DSA needs assessments, equipment training and equipment supply, rather than the several hundred SMEs who had been delivering these services. Ultima Education is one such business and so no longer has a place within the DSA sector.

Ultima Education was formed in 2019 with a simple plan; to deliver DSA needs assessments to students that put the student at the centre of the process. It was the result of many years working at other needs assessment centres, as well as experiences gained from working with university disability services, all of which led to a firm belief that we could offer something better to students.

Five years later, having completed over 8,700 needs assessments, the plan remained the same, though the scale had increased far more than was ever anticipated. With a team of over 40 and 50 different assessment centres around the country, we achieved much more than we thought possible. However, the 1,127 reviews we received from the students we worked with suggests that we also able to deliver what we hoped, with five star reviews given by 1,088 (96%) of those students.

The changes to the DSA delivery are based on some good intentions - a desire to speed up the process and reduce the number of different points of contact for students are both much needed. The way in which the framework seeks to deliver these outcomes is an area of concern for many within the sector who fear that the exercise puts cost cutting before quality. What is clear is that the new framework has led to a huge number of experienced professionals leaving the sector, leaving a knowledge gap that will take some time to fill.

For us, the changes have meant a new direction in which we can apply our knowledge and experience in new areas, such as in the workplace and with individuals at different stages of education. There are exciting opportunities to work with new people and to continue the legacy of Ultima Education in putting those people at the heart of what we do.
For information about the new DSA service delivery, see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/slc-introduces-improved-disabled-students-allowance-service

For students who had their needs assessment with Ultima Education and need further support, please contact your funding body in the first instance:
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