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Student Finance (Read 7,432 times)
Dave
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Student Finance
Oct 3rd, 2009 at 10:46pm
 
Source: David Willetts MP

http://www.davidwilletts.co.uk/2009/09/20/ministers-must-answer-for-governments-...

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Press Release: Ministers must answer for Government’s role in student loans chaos

September 20, 2009

Previously unseen documents released under Freedom of Information show the Government’s key role in the decisions which led to this year’s student loans chaos. Tens of thousands of students will begin university tomorrow without loans and grants after administrative chaos led to severely delayed applications, loss of identification documents and thousands of unanswered helpline phone calls.

The minutes of Board Meetings of the Student Loans Company (SLC) reveal:

[…]

• The SLC is using an 0845 number - against official OFCOM guidance - so callers must pay up to 10p a minute to call, and some of the revenue can be ‘shared’ with the SLC.

[…]

SLC uses 0845 (NTS) number

The SLC helpline number is an 0845 (Number Translation Service or NTS) number so each call costs up to 10p a minute. 0845 numbers are commonly used for ‘revenue sharing’ - money from the call can be paid to the recipient so they can cover their costs or even make a profit. Government guidance explicitly recommends that public bodies should not use NTS numbers:

   * “Ofcom continues to recommend that public bodies should not use NTS numbers exclusively (ie: without giving equal prominence to a geographic alternative) especially when dealing with people on low incomes or other vulnerable groups.”

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/media/news/2006/04/nr_20060419

[…]

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« Last Edit: Oct 5th, 2009 at 5:25pm by Dave »  
 
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Dave
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Re: Student Finance
Reply #1 - Oct 5th, 2009 at 5:18pm
 
Source: Sunday Times

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6841542.ece

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September 20, 2009
Government warned of quango bungling last year

Jack Grimston

THE government was warned a year ago of failings at the quango whose bungling has left an estimated 100,000 students likely to start university or college in the new academic year without knowing what loans and grants they will receive.

Minutes of last year's board meetings at the Student Loans Company (SLC) show executives were concerned that there were insufficient staff at call centres to handle queries from students. Callers were waiting longer and longer to have the phone answered because of "low levels of staff availability".

In three months 250,000 callers hung up rather than wait for an answer. This was before this year's steep increase in loan applications.

The collapse of the telephone helpline has left students unable to check on the progress of their applications. Some callers have had to ring 50 times before being answered.

The company was following a Cabinet Office directive to halve "avoidable customer contact", Whitehall jargon for phone calls.

David Willetts, the shadow universities secretary, who gathered the evidence on SLC board meetings, said: "The government claim it's a sudden problem, but this evidence disproves that. There was a conscious decision to reduce the quality of service for students."

Kelvin Callcott is still awaiting the outcome of his loan application just a few days before he starts his mobile computing degree at Kingston University.

"It gets distressing as there is no way to contact them online after your application reaches a certain stage and then you have no alternative but to keep ringing them at 8p a go plus Vat. My father has tried 50 times."

It has also emerged that the SLC has been breaching Ofcom guidance that public sector institutions should not use 0845 numbers without giving an alternative number for callers to use.

Meetings were attended by Michael Hipkins, of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, now part of Lord Mandelson's business department. A spokeswoman said it provided more than £4m earlier this year to improve call centres.

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« Last Edit: Oct 5th, 2009 at 5:25pm by Dave »  
 
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bigjohn
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Student Loan Company. 0845 Number Nice Earner !
Reply #2 - Nov 16th, 2011 at 3:43am
 
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« Last Edit: Nov 16th, 2011 at 3:50am by bigjohn »  

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