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CASH FIASCO HITS STUDENTS

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Thousands of undergarduates are having to receive emergency cash handouts after their student loans failed to arriv...
Thousands of undergarduates are having to receive emergency cash handouts after their student loans failed to arrive for the start of term, reported the Sunday Express (p30).

Three months after the government was warned that a computer bungle could prevent students from receiving their£3,635 loans on time, many anxious freshers have been left penniless after their only source of finance failed to turn up.

Universities are dipping into their own coffers to rescue the students and provide them with money to pay for rent and food. Institutions have also been in negotiations with banks, urging them to be sympathetic.

In July, local authorities, who have been charged with assessing student loan applications, warned that new software provided through the government would not be ready in time for term. Despite having suffered computer fiascoes at the Passport Agency and in processing asylum applications, the government chose to dismiss the warnings.

At the weekend, the DfEE insisted that any student who had not received their loan in time for term were themselves to blame. The Local Government Association echoed the sentiment. Neil Fletcher, LGA head of education, said that students who had not received their loan cheque had either been 'too lazy or too drunk' to return their applications in time.

The National Union of Students admitted some of those who have failed to receive their money may have failed to complete forms correctly. However, it claimed much of the fault lies with 'bureaucratic errors' and the local authorities who have struggled to get the computer software to work. An NUS spokesman said:'Different local authorities have responded to the computer hiccups in different timeframes'.

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