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Three out of four English universities have had to make emergency payments to students who are still waiting for their loans to come through.

Ongoing problems with processing student loans - mainly because of the big increase in applications thanks to the recession - have led to long delays for thousands of students.

A spokeswoman for the Student Loan Company said they apologised to students still waiting for money, and thanked the universities for their help. She said the SLC was still receiving 14,000 applications a week, and was clearing them at the rate of 2,000 a day.

The BBC surveyed 58 universities, of which 49 said they had increased hardship payments this year, and 43 of those said problems with loans was to blame.

The University of Portsmouth has paid £80,000 to students needing help for food, course materials and rent.

Vice Chancellor Professor John Craven said students from poorer backgrounds were bearing the brunt of the problems. He said: "We are angry on behalf of our students, who have been badly hit by this."

Ralph Seymour Jackson, chief executive of the Student Loan Company, apologised to students and promised: "We are working hard to ensure that this does not happen again next year and are working on a number of measures including simplifying the application process, increasing our call handling capacity and offering clearer advice and guidance to students on questions such as application deadlines.”

Figures released in early November showed 25,000 students had been paid between 18 and 25 of October. In total, 18,000 more applications have been processed than at the same time last year.

The government has announced an inquiry into the causes of the problems. ®

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