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Education secretary urged to intervene after student loan error

RCN wants ‘worried and distressed’ healthcare students to receive the financial support they have budgeted for

RCN wants ‘worried and distressed’ healthcare students to receive the financial support they have budgeted for


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The education secretary has been encouraged to intervene after student nurses at 20 universities had their loans and grants cut off or reduced due to administrative errors.

More than 800 people have been told they were paid too much money by the Student Loans Company and informed upcoming payments will be reduced or stopped to recover the sums, as Nursing Standard reported earlier this month.

Trade unions and professional bodies, including the RCN, Unison, and the National Union of Students (NUS), called on education secretary Damian Hinds to urgently intervene to ensure those affected receive the financial support they had budgeted for next term.

In a letter, coordinated by the RCN, the unions say: ‘We are writing to ask you to take urgent action to ensure healthcare students in England and Wales affected by errors made by the SLC will receive their anticipated payment of support in spring, as they had budgeted for.’

‘We also ask that you use the power at your discretion as education secretary to write off overpayments in the long-term for these students.’

Ability to study

The letter adds: ‘Our student members are telling us that the risk of receiving a reduced payment, or no payment at all, will compromise their ability to continue studying.

‘In some cases, we are hearing concerning reports from individual students who are considering discontinuing due to these financial pressures.’

Overpayments of between £600 and £6,000 were made in error, the RCN said, adding that many students queried the sums, but were told they were correct.

A ‘huge volume of calls’ are being received from ‘worried and distressed students’ due to the situation, the letter states.

Hardship

The letter is signed by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, NUS, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Occupational Therapists, Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, Society of Radiographers, the College of Podiatry and Unison.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: ‘We have been clear that none of the affected student nurses should suffer hardship as a result of this error.

‘We have been working with the Student Loans Company to ensure students have the support they need and will shortly provide details on specific initiatives to help them.’

Any students affected by the loan error are encouraged to contact the Student Loans Company via discretionary_payments@slc.co.uk


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