Published on January 29, 2014 | by Callum McCarthy0
Romanian and Bulgarian students’ loans frozenRomanian and Bulgarian students in the UK are now facing being withdrawn from their courses nearly three months after the Department of Business froze their loans.
Universities and science minister David Willetts ordered the freezing of funds in November after what was described as a “suspicious increase” in applications for maintenance loans, leaving 7,500 students without funding for their courses.
UAL says that it has contacted 13 Romanian and Bulgarian students who have had their funding frozen and is providing help and support for the 10 who responded.
Affected students were ordered to submit three years’ worth of bank statements and utility bills to the Student Loans Company as “further evidence” to support their claims, but it is thought that over 2,500 students are still waiting for SLC to approve their evidence and clear their funds.
Students such as Ginka Guncheva, 21, who has been resident in the UK for over six years, have been told by SLC that the further evidence they have submitted is not sufficient, despite her records showing she attended secondary school here.
“The difficulty for most students is to find this evidence from the years when they were under 16,” Guncheva said.
“We didn’t have work documents or a bank account. I sent them bank statements from 2009 but they want them from 2008, when I was 15 and didn’t have an account.”
Since her maintenance and tuition loans were withheld in November, third-year Westminster student Guncheva has been forced away from her studies and taken off the university’s systems.
“I commute to London so I didn’t have any money to attend lectures or tutorials. When I tried to submit my coursework I was not on the system, everything was frozen,” she said.
“I’ve been depressed. I can’t tell you how much I’ve cried.”
Emil Mihai Lixandru, a lawyer providing free legal help and advice to stricken students, says that he is considering a claim to the Royal Courts of Justice on their behalf if the situation remains unresolved.
“(The students) can’t survive any more,” said Lixandru.
“They’re running out of resources and it’s a desperate situation for them. The students have shown me their evidence and correspondence letters with Student Finance and we’re trying to do something to help them.”
He continued: “We’re not looking to go to court, we’re just trying to get these people back into their schools so they can continue their studies. They have rights to stay here and to study here.”
NUS international students’ officer Daniel Stevens said: “I am hearing horror stories of students suddenly being withdrawn from their courses without explanation. It is incredibly unfair to target groups of students by cutting them off from their studies completely