Studylink Call Centre under fire

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The call centre that deals with student loans and allowances dropped 300,000 calls in five months.

The help line has dropped nearly 300,000 calls in the last five months, and students’ frustration is mounting as they struggle to get answers to their questions.  Student Melissa tried to make contact via the Studylink website, but was told “the only way to do anything is over the phone”.  “So I’ve rang up and I cant get through to them. I’ve called them at eight o’clock in the morning and all throughout the day and I cant get through,” she said.
 
It’s a similar pattern across the country.  Head of Studylink Susan Kosmala said it is unfortunate some students have trouble getting through.  “That’s not the service we aim to provide. We are continuing to make improvements to answer as many calls as we can,” she said.  Victoria University Students’ Association president Rory McCourt said the problems mean some students have to make difficult choices.  “What we’re finding is students who are out of luck with Studylink coming through with their allowance or student living costs, they’re facing choices like spending nights at the night shelter, desperately hunting for flats – but its very hard to get into a flat when you can’t front up with the cash,” he said.
 
In the last five months Studylink has answered nearly 430,000 calls, but a further 300,000 weren’t answered. The figure is actually an improvement of more than a 100,000 on the same time last year.

Studylink told ONE News this is its busiest time of year. It is processing 310,000 student loan and allowance applications and has employed an extra 330 staff.  But that might not be enough, McCourt said.  “Students have trouble with Studylink every year but this year is especially bad we’ve found”.  “A lot of people just dont get through at all, they get hung up on when they do and the online support just isn’t adequate. We understand that Studylink is doing their best but the Government needs to acknowledge that this is a problem year in, year out and it needs more resourcing,” he said.
 
Melissa’s course costs have been paid by Studylink, but she still hasn’t received the part of her loan she needs for living expenses and so cannot afford this week’s rent.  “It’s made it a lot more stressful than it needs to be. I have not been able to buy some of my books because I haven’t had my payment yet,” she said.
 
She’s been to Work and Income to try and talk to someone face to face, but was told she had to make an appointment by phone, through Studylink.  Studylink recommends to use its website as much as possible. 

Source One News 16 March 2013

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