Students from low-income families who are exempt from paying tuition fees are being wrongly pursued for the money as the result of a bureaucratic bungle, writes Alison Goddard.
The Student Loans Company has failed to pay the tuition fees because the students do not appear on its records as attending a recognised university course. The company was unable to explain why as The THES went to press.
Faced with unpaid bills, universities contacted the students asking them to pay up. It was only at this stage, when students produced documentation from their local education authorities stating the fees were to be paid by the SLC, that the problem was identified.
The THES has also learned that some students have been offered - and accepted - loans payable in one instalment rather than three, for the coming academic year.
When the error was discovered, the SLC wrote to the students concerned, asking them to complete new credit agreements where the loan would be paid in three instalments.
The SLC blamed the mistake on "a system error" and said it regretted "any confusion that may have arisen as a result of this incident".