Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/17/student_loan_problems/

Student loans company says 'we're not overloaded'

Starving students too weak to argue

By John Oates

Posted in Government, 17th September 2009 14:39 GMT

The Student Loans Company has insisted its systems are coping with a surge of applications despite complaints of a rising backlog of applications ahead of the new academic year.

Up to 50,000 students face starting term without full loans. Late applicants have been promised provisional payments. Student forums are still full of students, and their parents, struggling to get their questions answered.

The NUS complained today that the company had given repeated assurance that "significant backlogs would not be a problem, but now it is apparent that this is not the case".

But the SLC said it was dealing with a record number of applications and only students who applied late were facing delays. A spokeswoman told the Register its systems were holding up well, but there were delays getting through to call centres.

The SLC statement said:

We’re sorry that our customers are experiencing difficulties getting through to our customer advisors at Student Finance England. This year, we have received record numbers of applications and calls. We have processed the majority of applications from across the UK and we are processing thousands more every day. We are currently processing late applications that were submitted in mid-late August. Any customer who has applied on time should be paid on time, once they have registered at university.

We are encouraging students to review the status of their application online and also to check the website where we will be posting regular updates.

We acknowledge that this will be a worrying time for those students affected. We will process applications and deal with enquiries as quickly as possible. Would-be students are advised to check www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance

The company has already increased call centre capacity to try and deal with the increased workload.

SLC is also warning students not to be fooled by phishing emails claiming to be from the loan provider asking bogus security questions. ®