Issue 11 |2nd November 2009 | www.ussu.co.uk/thestag
Editor : Sara Hadeld Editor-In-Chief : Elizabeth Simos
Produced in USSU,University of Surrey,
he head of student loans, Ralph Seymour-Jackson,was asked to resign last month by the NationalUnion of Students in the wake of the appalling
student fnance crisis. Ben Pook investigates why so
many students are still waiting for loans and offers his ownaccount of the situation.
According to gures from the SLC, over 100,000 studentswere still waiting for loans in the last week of October.Applicants have been left stranded and many are struggling to afford rent payments during the rst few months of theacademic year. President of the National Union of Students,Wes Streeting, has highlighted Seymour-Jackson’s poormanagement of the process and noted how the SLC headattempted to pass the blame onto us, the students.Wes Streeting said, “You’ve got the appalling situationwhich has left hundreds of thousands affected by thiscrisis, tens of thousands without their support, a miserablestart to term and on top of that one of the most shamefulspin operations from a public body I have ever seen. Theyhave failed to communicate with the public, made brokenpromise after broken promise. In that context how anyonecan expect us to have condence is beyond me. It’s time forRalph Seymour-Jackson to do honourable thing and resign– or for ministers to step in and sack him.The record number of applicants this year has causeddelays in the student nance system and the transferof the administration systems from local authorities toSLC has led to additional systematic problems during theprocess. Universities have been offering nancial support to students who are unable to afford living costs, including rent and food, but this has been an unexpected burden formany academic establishments across the country.And it seems that some applications are still annoyingly farfrom complete; as I found out recently during my applicationprocess. My loan is income-assessed and the SLC requestmy household details each year. However, technical issueson the SLC website prevented me from submitting thesedetails online and I was forced to send a form via the post.After three weeks without a response, I reluctantly called thestudent loans hotline number. I was greeted by a charismaticvoice - a welcome change from the standard “the shorter this lasts the better” tone - which seemed enthusiasticabout dealing with my query. Good start. I highlighted mygrowing impatience about the lack of communication andasked why my process isn’t complete, as well as why I can’tprocess the details online. He apologised, unsurprisingly,and offered a phone number of my local SLC, who is
dealing with the application. Next, he openly admitted to acomplete failure by the organisation to effectively manage‘income assessed’ loan applications. I was impressed by this openness and outright declaration of incompetence,and it seemed my initial judgment about his character wascorrect. I began to consider, maybe the SLC isn’t all badafter all? At least their employees are honest.
Naively, I forgot how my process was still far from over.The employee simply sugar coated his answer withhonesty and necessary apologies. I was sold to hisaptitude, yet after the phone call, all I had was anotherphone number – so I was still in the exact same positionas before. And to make matters worse, it was too late to call my local SLC. Swindlers.
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Student Loans’ Head is on the Line
Students in support of lesbian, gay,bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) rightsdescended on London last week toprotest against the National BloodService’s policy of not allowing gayand bisexual men to donate blood.The ban states that men who haveever had oral or anal sex with othermen are banned for life from donating blood. The NBS justies this policy byexplaining that men have a higherchance of carrying HIV.‘Donation not Discrimination’ - anationwide campaign by the NUS -has protested against the ban for thepast ve years, during which hundredsof LBGT students have joined thecampaign and tens of thousandsof people have signed the petition.NUS believe that the lifetime ban isdiscriminatory and perpetuates themyth that AIDS is a ‘gay disease’.Daf Adley, NUS LGBT Ofcer said,“Whilst donating blood is not a right, itis a responsibility - one which healthygay and bisexual men should be able to exercise without fear of prejudiceor discrimination.”#
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Students Demonstrate Against Gay Blood Ban
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