first_imgA UNIVERSITY error severely delaying loan payments has stranded hundreds of students without the financial means to pay battels and basic living costs.Undergraduates have been forced to loan each other money, and some have reported charges of up to £4000 on their termly battels after colleges included University tuition fees with charges for rent.Around 1200 students were affected, with over £5.2 million in loan payments delayed.JCR Presidents are to hold a meeting today in an attempt to force the University to correct the error before more students hit serious financial trouble.The problem, caused by the University’s new online registration system, has prevented money from the Student Loans Company reaching students.In a statement released on Wednesday, the Oxford Student Information Centre (OSIC) charged with running the registration scheme admitted responsibility for the fault.“One of the daily file uploads to the SLC that confirms student attendance had a problem. To remedy this the Central Administration section reconfirmed all enrolled SLC students to the SLC.”OSIC claimed that payments for the approximately 300 students affected took three to five working days to process, although many students have disputed this.Pembroke JCR President Chris Bennetts said, “The online registration process was supposed to make things easier, but for many students this year it has had the opposite effect. Students live on tight budgets and many cannot afford to wait for errors to be corrected.“Despite completing the online registration in plenty of time for the new academic year, loan payments were not made.”Martha Rowsell, a second-year language student at Brasenose, registered in time but still experienced weeks of delays before receiving her first payment on Tuesday.“It’s outrageous that the loans have taken so long to come through,” she said. “It’s not so bad for students who can rely on support from their parents, but for those who can’t it’s been really hard.”The University has refused to accept total responsibility for the delays, claiming they occurred nationally as a result of “heavy traffic loads on the SLC portal by universities confirming attendance”.In a second blunder, around 900 other students face an even longer wait after failing to register on time. “It took ages for all the relevant information to come through,” said one third-year St Anne’s student who wished to remain anonymous. “When I was finally able to enter my password and user name in late September, I was told the site was not yet operational. I think the whole process should be made less cumbersome.”User names for the new system were sent to students’ contact addresses by their colleges, but passwords emailed from OSIC did not reach some respondents as University email accounts filtered them as junk mail.OSIC said that of those who did not successfully register, 90 per cent of queries were dealt with within 48 hours.The Student Loans Company, however, has indicated that late registrations could take up to six weeks to process, leaving students to rely on bank overdrafts or borrowing from friends when overdrafts have already reached maximum limits.College bursaries were keen to stress their sympathy for students suffering financial difficulties. Mansfield has removed penalties on late battels payments while Pembroke offered some students short-term loans to cover rent.Brasenose’s Bursar John Knowland said, “We will allow late payment when there is a genuine reason for being unable to pay on time, including the late arrival of money from the Student Loan Company.”In reference to those students whose battels unexpectedly included tuition fees he added, “The College does not charge students the fees which it is obliged to pass to the University, if it has received confirmation from the Student Loan Company that those fees will be paid by the Student Loan Company.” By Michael Sweeneylast_img

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