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Reg Empey must intervene to ensure Student loans are paid

20 August, 2008 - by John O'Dowd

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA has expressed concern after discovering that some students graduating from university are having their diplomas withheld because the Student Loan Company has failed to pay their fees.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"This is an unacceptable situation; graduates have worked hard for their degrees yet are not able to get the award from the university because the Student Loan Company has not paid the relevant fees.

"While universities have long used this mechanism to ensure that all outstanding money owed to them is paid the situation is placing more pressure on students who now have such huge levels of debt when they leave university.

"Parents of students I have spoken to have taken out loans and paid upwards of £1,300 by credit cards directly to Universities to ensure that their son or daughter has the honour they deserve of graduating and receiving their diploma they worked so hard for instead of receiving a blank scroll.

"Parents in this situation now have to pay off those Credit Card bills and loans as several weeks later the Universities concerned have been unable to reimburse them as the Student loan company has still not paid outstanding accounts.

"I am calling on the Higher Education Minister Reg Empey to directly intervene and contact the Student loan company and use his Ministerial office to bring pressure on them to pay all outstanding accounts.

Concluding Mr O Dowd said

"Sinn Féin are not alone in highlighting the damaging impact of tuition fees in creating barriers to university education but now we see that graduates are being penalised at a time when they are trying to secure that all important first job." ENDS

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