Eight per cent of students get their dates of birth wrong, says Eric Ash, acting chief of the Student Loans Company. But he chides them only gently for it. In fact, his letter to students on applying for loans is astonishingly light-hearted.
Take this: "Our first attempt to devise a high-speed process ... did not work any too well. In fact, let's be honest, it worked rather ill!". Or take his plea for swift replies: "If the postman were to put (400,000 of) them through our letter box one morning early in October, our systems would creak, groan, hopefully not crash." Then there is his plea to be sent applicants' account numbers: "This is particularly important if your name happens to be John Smith or Mary Brown. If it's Matilda Szaniewski we might be able to identify you anyway." The time-challenged 8 per cent he mentions use the current year rather than the year they were born.