31/10/2012 12:26 GMT | Updated 31/10/2012 13:19 GMT

Thousands Of Scottish Students Still Waiting For Loans And Bursaries

Thousands of students are still without their bursaries and loans despite being more than a month into the term, with reports of some being forced to leave university due to financial difficulties.

Scottish students have been left without means to pay for rent or food after the government's student loans agency did not pay out finances which were due to be received in September.

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) has admitted it is attempting to answer around 1,000 calls every day from students desperate to get their money. The SAAS has even written to universities telling them it is so overwhelmed by the volume of complaints it is shutting the phone lines one day a week, the BBC reported.

Murray Alexander, a Scottish undergraduate student, said he was a "breaking point".

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"I won't be able to attend college if I don't get any funding," he wrote on the SAAS' Facebook page. "I have placements to get to an cannot afford this due to SAAS funding being so late.

"My career is on the line here. Can I please have help."

Student Christina Calder described the agency as a "joke".

"Many students have had to withdraw from their courses because of you [SAAS] and I'm not wanting to be one of them just because you lot can't be arsed to pull your finger out and get on with processing applications."

More than 7,500 students are yet to have their applications processed by the SAAS, which handles 150,000 applications annually, despite submitting them months ago.

The agency's Facebook page has more than a hundred complaints and appeals from students who are struggling to afford to meet their rent and food costs.

One woman, Diana Hegarty, wrote: "I am now having issues with paying bills and getting rent paid. I have a child to support and you have no way of answering my questions. I am finding out more from students than I am [from] you! This is ridiculous and any other company would have been shut down for this poor service level."

The agency's Twitter account was also inundated with queries from exasperated and panicked students:

The Scottish government says anyone who applied before July would have received their loan, although a comment by the SAAS on their Facebook page said: "All students who applied in April have been either sent an award notice or a request for missing information."

The problem is believed to have been caused by new technology which was introduced to make the system more efficient.

Robin Parker, president of National Union of Students Scotland, said the government needed to investigate exactly what had happened.

"Students who have not received support funding have every right to be upset, and are absolutely right to expect a better level of service. Many students rely on this funding to afford their education, and could struggle to remain at university without this much-needed support.

"The government needs to investigate why students will still be waiting for their support payments in November, and look very closely at providing the additional resources SAAS would need to process applications quicker."

A Scottish government spokesperson said the SAAS is committed to ensuring students got the help and information they needed - "and of course their applications processed as fast as possible".

"Clearly there are intense periods of calls before and at the start of term time.

"New applications and changes to courses, attendance and other elements of the students support package continue to be received on a daily basis and are being processed as quickly as possible."