Thousand of English students, including those studying at Scottish universities, have been left without their loans after the Student Loans Company (SLC) struggled with demand for loans.
The firm, which has only this year taken over the processing of maintenance grants and tuition fees from local councils, has seen applications rise 17% since 2008, with figures hitting one million for the first time.
Pressure is being put on the system by the record increase in the number of applications to university, fuelled by workers returning to education during the recession and more people being forced to take out loans and apply for grants.
Students have also found it impossible to contact the SLC. Those who are put on hold are faced with long waits, whilst others have complained about documents going missing and conflicting information from SLC staff.
However, the SLC has opened up 50% more phone lines to deal with the volume of calls. SRC President, Laura Laws, was keen to point out that students currently without their loans could apply to the University for help.
She said: “Students should have received the non-income assessed part of their loans, and should receive the remainder before the end of October. Students can apply for a university crisis loan to tide them over until their loan comes through: forms can be picked up from the SRC advice centre and level two of the Fraser Building.”
It has also emerged that ministers were made aware by the SLC as early as January that there would be insufficient staff to deal with applications for 2009/2010.
Laws was angered that the government had known about the issue, but had made no attempts to solve it.
She explained: “It is disgusting that the Westminster government knew about this problem a long time ago and haven’t done anything to fix it or speed up the process.
“The SRC Advice Centre is currently helping a number of students to get the money they are owed from the SLC, and we will be speaking to SLC bosses directly in meetings over the coming weeks to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”