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Student loans: £6 an hour workers bear the brunt of broken system

More than 50,000 university students have not received their student loans as term begins. A call centre worker at the student loans advice line spoke to Socialist Worker

Issue No. 2170

‘I work for £6 per hour for Response Handling, an outsourced student loans call centre. We’re here to put out fires when raging students and parents phone to find out what’s going on with applications they made months ago.

The conditions are appalling. Roughly 200 temps have been taken on in the last month. We don’t get overtime pay. Instead there’s a £150 “bonus” if you work an extra 40 hours in the month – but if you’re even one minute late you forfeit it.

The main reason for the shambles is Student Finance England. They have completely fucked up.

It was predictable – the same thing happened in their pilot areas. But they were still put in charge of the system.

Their system means all new applications are sent to a PO Box in Darlington, carted up to a warehouse in Glasgow, and then opened and sent back down to Darlington.

This year a new computer system was put in for people to apply “hassle free” online. But the system didn’t work, and they didn’t tell anyone.

Eventually they admitted they had lost thousands of records, together with passports, birth certificates, you name it.

Now the universities are turning nasty with the students. One student I spoke to was told that if he didn’t have his fees by tomorrow he wasn’t getting on the course.

The privatised halls are even worse, threatening students with eviction if they don’t make their first rent payment.’

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Article information

Tue 22 Sep 2009, 18:28 BST
Issue No. 2170
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