University registration dogged by poor communication and ancient IT

A mixture of university registration failings for returning students and a bureaucratic student loans system which is outdated and lacking in communications, why are so many students broke at the start of their returning academic year? Article

For those in the UK, the issues around student loans and university financing have been hitting the headlines over the last few weeks.

There are two ways to get a student loan through student financing: means testing and non-means testing. Means testing is basing your incoming loan depending on what your parents earn in effort to ease the burden on the Student Loans Company, the public-sector body which regulates and dishes out loans to students. The other is a simple case of sign a few documents and once your university confirms you, your loan transfers into your bank account.

Why?

That is, however, if the university decide to register you after all.

For returning students especially, pretty much everybody knows who you are. With your university ID and smart card (which I shall be writing about later today) re-registering for another year should be simple. Not always, I am afraid to say.

Dozens of students have come to the office telling me (I'm welfare officer for one of the colleges) that the Student Records system will not allow them to register because of an "unknown error". Why?

Often the reason is because the student owes money to the university. You register for one year, get your student loan through as a result of registration (as a check to ensure you are in fact at university), study for that year, go home at the end and go through the process again. However if you owe the university money, in form of accommodation costs into the thousands or even a library fine which costs a few pounds, they will not allow you to register until that is cleared.

But the problem is that there is no definitive way of telling you so. The communications between the universities, the Student Loans Company and the students are atrocious. Instead of being told about the massive delay in means tested loans, they opted for the country's media and a government department to report it instead.

The government says that we should pay more in tuition fees. Some of us wouldn't mind if we got our damned loans through on time to pay it.

The main trouble, as I see it, is the lack of communication along with prehistoric systems which do not make way for the differences in communications and technologies nowadays.

Fixing it

Registration is a simple process where you access your student record through the Student Records system, check a few boxes and make sure your details are in fact correct, and that confirms you as a student for another year. But along with that, this process sends a notification to the Students Loan Company which then authorises them to release your loan.

But with the infrastructure difficulties and so many students accessing the Student Records system at the same time, no wonder the system is slow, messed up and causing all kinds of grief.

For the time being, all I can do is console those with worries and ensure them that this will be sorted out soon enough. The problem is that this will carry on year after year with the same difficulties because it is not considered "broken enough".

Has your loan arrived late due to computer malfunction or lack of communication issues? TalkBack.