Prior to 1990, disabled students in higher education would receive a small, non-means tested additional grant payment to help pay for extra costs during their course. However, this payment was proving to be insufficient for some students and in 1990 extra payments for equipment and non-medical helpers were introduced.

Local authorities according to need, and based on evidence provided by the student allocated these new payments. Local authorities were not experts in this area, and over the next few years a number of bodies were set up to assess the support needs of disabled students and enable local authorities to judge more accurately what was equitable.

By the late 1990s it became clear that a process was required to ensure that the assessment centres and Assistive Technology Service (ATS) providers involved in the scheme met certain minimum standards.

A Quality Assurance Group (QAG) was set up by the then Department for Education and Skills (DfES), now known as the Department for Education (DfE). By 2004 a Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) was developed and launched, and audits of assessment centres and ATS providers began.

Initially, Manchester City Council administered Disabled Students Allowances Quality Assurance Group (DSA-QAG), but in order to establish a firm legal status it was agreed in 2006 that DSA-QAG should incorporate and become a non-profit making Regulatory Company Limited by Guarantee called DSA-QAG.

In 2008 DSA-QAG applied and gained charity status in October 2008 for England and Wales.