Scottish Students Left Without Essential Funding

University in Scotland
Thousands of Scottish students have been left without student loans and scholarships by the Scottish government. About 6,000 students have not had a funding application processed by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS), even though the semester is almost half complete.

The SAAS funding issues have left students without student loans for tuition, rent or food money. Some students have even been forced to leave their schools.

The agency received over 151,000 applications for student loans and scholarships and has processed 145,000. The SAAS said it will have all of the applications processed by the end of November, and that this is its “main priority at the moment.” The students expected to receive the funds by September at the latest.

Many students took to the SAAS Facebook and Twitter pages to post their complaints. Murray Alexander, a Scottish undergrad student, said he has reached a breaking point. “I won’t be able to attend college if I don’t get any funding,” he wrote. “I have placements to get to and cannot afford this due to SAAS funding being so late. My career is on the line here. Can I please have help?”

The SAAS is receiving upwards of 1,000 calls per day, as stated in a letter distributed to universities. In mid-October, the agency started closing its phone lines one day per week to account for the influx in calls. The agency has responded several times via its Facebook page. One post stated, “For a number of weeks we have received higher than normal volumes of mail and emails. This has meant that we have not been able to reply within 30 working days. We apologise (sic) for this and are working hard to rectify it.”

But for many students, the organization’s ambiguity is not helping.

Diana Hegarty, another disgruntled student, wrote: “I am now having issues with paying bills and getting rent paid. I have a child to support and you have no way of answering my questions. I am finding out more from students than I am [from] you! This is ridiculous and any other company would have been shut down for this poor service level.”

Part of the reasoning behind the unprocessed applications is due to the student loan applications being submitted late. SAAS said it received about 6,000 late applications after the June 30 deadline, with a “vast majority” received in September and October. Social media comments illustrate a different side with overwhelmed students questioning why their student loan applications submitted months ago have not been processed.

The National Union of Students (NUS), a student campaigning organization in the United Kingdom, is putting pressure on the government to resolve these student loan issues immediately. NUS president, Robin Parker, said the government should consider giving the SAAS additional resources to assist during this time.

"Students who have not received support funding have every right to be upset, and are absolutely right to expect a better level of service. Many students rely on this funding to afford their education, and could struggle to remain at university without this much-needed support," Parker said to the Irvine Herald. “The Scottish Government needs to investigate why students will still be waiting for their support payments in November and look closely at providing the additional resources SAAS would need to process applications quicker.”

The NUS is current requesting an investigation into the matter.