THE head of the student loans agency caused outrage today by saying it was "reasonable" for 50,000 people to start university without their grants.
The Student Loans Company has failed to cope with a surge in applications this year, leaving tens of thousands of undergraduates facing hardship as they begin their studies.
The quango's chief executive Ralph Seymour-Jackson said: "The situation is not perfect, but it's reasonable."
He said the backlog had forced the company to give at least a "basic level" of funding to all students when they arrive at university over the next few weeks. But up to 50,000 students will be forced to wait weeks for the full grant they are entitled to, he told the BBC.
Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, condemned Mr Seymour-Jackson for trying to play down the fiasco.
He said: "It is completely unacceptable for some of the poorest and most vulnerable students in the country to be left short of funds.
"It is particularly insulting for Ralph Seymour-Jackson to claim that this situation is 'reasonable'. …