Thousands of students in Britain have still not received their first payment of bursaries and loans from government bodies almost a month into the academic year.
A record 135,784 applicants this year have left the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) unable to process all applications in time for the start of the first semester and many students who have applied for Young Student Bursaries (YSBs) are still waiting for them to arrive.
YSBs are available to students from low income families, as well as to students with disabilities and those with children, who are living and studying in Scotland.
The current lack of funding has led to some applicants taking out overdrafts, working extra shifts and applying for emergency loans in order to cover rent and living costs.
In a statement on the SAAS website, the company cites “ongoing disruptions to postal services” as a factor in the delay in students receiving their award notices.
However, a fourth-year History student at the University of Glasgow said that she and her two siblings had received their SAAS award notices but had not yet received any funding.
She said: “I’m very lucky that I have some savings that I can use right now until the bursary gets put in my bank account, but there will be lots of students that are depending completely on their grants and will be feeling a lot of pressure.”
Waiting applicants are finding it difficult to find out information about the status of their applications because the telephone and email systems put in place to deal with students’ problems are being overwhelmed by enquiries.
Students applying to Student Finance England (SFE) have also encountered problems, with many applications lost or mislaid.
A call centre employee, working for a company sub-contracted by SFE, revealed to Guardian how busy the workers are.
“The phone lines are jammed. People calling up aren’t even getting in the queue to wait to speak to someone.”
The worker, who wished to remain anonymous, further disclosed: “Students obviously are calling up very upset but we have to aim to keep the duration of calls to under six minutes or our stats go up.
“Basically, for the students that applied early, back in April and May, their applications have essentially Jani Helle been lost.”