For those of you looking for an amusing, whimsical story about how one of my patients did something funny, I’m afraid that will have to wait until I see an amusing patient, hopefully in the next two weeks or so because today I am in rather a bad mood.
This weekend (as I am sure you are aware, and if you’re not aware I suggest you take a long, hard look at yourself) I wrote (aka ranted) about a complete lack of common sense in modern society, specifically in cricket and the NHS. Today I am going to rant about a complete lack of organisation, progress and common sense in student financing.
Today I had the joy of sorting out my student finance for the year. This meant an hour-long argument with student finance England (SFE) in which they repeatedly told me I was not entitled to anything and that therefore I need to find a strip club with an unusual clientele in order to continue to feed myself. For those of you not from the UK, SFE is the government body responsible for loaning students the money required to pay for their tuition fees and for their rent. However, as everyone in the government (and the directors of SFE) are millionaires and got paid to do their degrees anyway they are totally out of touch with society and therefore the system they employ is useless.
I’m a graduate medical student. This means that in order to get onto the course I must hold a 2.1 degree from a university. I have a Masters in Chemistry, this means that I spent 4 years working my arse off (not really) to get a degree. In the eyes of the government this is good, they have now provided me with an education and I can go and contribute to the economy and therefore any time I wish to waste in further education is not their concern and we can pay for it ourselves. I think this is fair enough. Except in the case of graduate courses where the government say you must have a degree to do this course I think it is a little hypocritical of them to take our money away then, and in my case they agree (we were bound to agree on something sooner or later), so the government provides funding for graduate medical students.
ANYWAY. As graduate medics this means that we have to have a yearly argument with SFE whose drones repeatedly tell us that we are not entitled to any support and that any support we have received was in error and needs to be paid back now. We argue some more, I ask to speak to a supervisor who argues more vigorously and then has to pass me on to the resolution team. I like to think of the resolution team as the special forces of SFE. Selected from the ranks of idiotic flow-chart following drones that inhabit the general call centre to deal with people who don’t fit nicely into a box. We’re graduates and we are allowed funding. For some reason this blows the minds of most of the people who work there, and the computer system that informs them of everything. I should probably say that I am generalising. I spoke to a great bloke called Keith and a lovely geordie girl called Katie (from NHS bursaries- another nemesis of mine) this week, both of whom were fantastic and sorted my problems out quite quickly. It’s the other 98% of the workforce at these two institutions that are cretins.
This is what you get when you Google “special forces phone”
My point is this:
There are over 500 graduate medical students at my university alone, in total across the country there are about 1200 of us. All in the same position (almost, we’re complicated since Cameron and Clegg fucked us over with £9k fees) every year. And every year the computer tells us that we’re not entitled to anything. This means that, every year, 1200 people have to spend an hour on the phone (on an 0845 number) arguing with student finance and subsequently with the (hopefully better paid) resolutions team, all because someone is too lazy to update a computer system. This annoys me. Not only is this a massive waste of my time and energy it is a waste of money and the time of the advisors who would be better off dealing with queries from freshers who don’t know what’s going on, or from a girl who hasn’t got her loan yet and is having to strip to pay for food (supposedly this happened every year in my old uni). It can’t be that difficult to fix.
I realise that this post is a little bit disjointed and random. However I hope that it conveys that I am downright pissed off at how inefficient everything is, when all it takes is someone in SFE to think “Oh, we can do this and save ourselves a shit load of time, money and aggravation”.
But no, that would require common sense.