The National Union of Students has claimed a victory in securing concessions from two major banks bidding to run privatised loan schemes, writes Alan Thomson.
NUS president elect Douglas Trainer said that negotiations with Barclays and the Clydesdale Bank had secured promises of faster loans processing, reducing the wait for cash from 21 days to about five.
The union has also secured assurances against future credit discrimination if a student is turned down for a loan. It would also allow the student an explanation of the refusal and the right to appeal.
Barclays and the Clydesdale became the first financial institutions to reveal that they had submitted outline proposals to the Department for Education and Employment on Monday. The submissions were in response to the department's invitation to tender for the running of a private scheme.
Both Barclays, with over 2,000 branches nationwide and roughly a fifth of the student accounts market, and the Clydesdale, with a presence on all the major Scottish campuses, said that they were satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations with the NUS and hoped the DFEE would find their proposals attractive.
A third company is thought to be interested in offering privatised loans and there is speculation among student leaders that this may be a financial company which is neither a bank nor a building society.
Mr Trainer said: "We are pleased that Barclays and the Clydesdale have accepted our demands and altered their bids accordingly. By making this commitment they have set a tough standard for other potential bidders to achieve."
Private loans should be running along side the Government-run Student Loans Company from October. A student failing to secure a private loan will be able to apply to the company.