Student loans in ‘chaos’ due to huge influx of applications

Tens of thousands of students across the country are set to start the academic year with no funding from the Student Loans Company.

This may jeopardise a student’s ability to take their university place, as many will be unable to register without a student loan.

David Garner, Press and Communications Officer at the University of York, said that the problem has caused “understandable concern” and that the University are “receiving many enquiries from affected students and their parents.”

The problem has arisen after the SLC have been unable to cope with the huge influx of applications this year, which has left 150, 000 applications out of almost a million still not processed.

More students than ever have applied to go to university this year, with a record 623, 389 have gained places due to late applications through the clearing system. The University of York is still accepting clearing applications until the beginning of October.

This year new applications are being handled centrally by the SLC rather than by local authorities. Only 120 extra staff have been taken on to cope with the million applications for grants and loans.

The result is what Phil Willis, the MP who chairs the Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee, has called “chaos . . . a huge, bureaucratic nightmare.”

He added: “The SLC doesn’t have the staff or the software to deal with it.”

The problem has been exacerbated by the difficulty students have faced with the helpline that has been set up by SLC. Many students have reported going straight to a recorded message apologising for the problem, and those who do manage to speak to an adviser have reported delays and missing paperwork.

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman said: “The loans company has assured us that all those who have applied on time for finance will receive this at the start of the next academic year.”

Garner has advised first-year students intending to enrol at the University of York to continue with their plans to come to York, as “many students will receive notification of re-assessment before the start of term.”

He added: “We are committed to helping students to deal with this situation, and we have provided detailed advice and guidance online at http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/sso/general/SFEproblems.htm.”

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