Universities forced to 'bail out' students

Three-quarters of universities provide emergency funding after delays to loans and grants

Delays to student loans and grants have forced universities to bail students out with emergency funding, a survey has revealed.

Three-quarters of universities in England have been forced to intervene as up to 70,000 students still wait for their first maintenance payments.

Of the 58 institutions responding to the BBC survey, 49 reported increased hardship payments to students compared with last year, with 43 blaming the rise on the failures of the loans system.

On average, universities paid £44,000 to aid hundreds of students needing money for rent, food and course materials.

The University of Portsmouth said it had paid £80,000 to students still waiting for their loans and grants.

"We are angry on behalf of our students who have been badly hit by this," said Vice-Chancellor John Craven.

He warned that the problems had been particularly severe for students from poorer families experiencing higher education for the first time.

An inquiry was ordered by ministers after almost 150,000 students were left without funding at the start of the new academic year. The National Union of Students has called on the chief executive of the Students Loans Company to resign.

In a statement, the company said: "We are working hard to ensure that this does not happen again next year and are working on a number of measures including offering clear advice and guidance including on application deadlines, simplifying the application process and increasing our call handling capacity".

With tens of thousands of applications still being processed, the problem is unlikely to be resolved before the end of term.


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