8 Feb 2010

Nursing student claims harassment by StudyLink

9:07 pm on 8 February 2010

A Christchurch woman legally classed as an orphan says she has been harassed by the government student loan provider StudyLink for a signature from parents she does not have.

StudyLink denies that it has harassed her, while admitting that it sometimes makes mistakes.

Janita Huls's father died when she was 10 and her mother was too sick to look after her, so she was legally made an orphan.

Yet although she has explained this many times to StudyLink, the nursing student says, it continues to send her forms for her parents.

Miss Huls says her application for a student allowance has finally been accepted - after she'd received five letters and met with a StudyLink staffer.

The Canterbury University Students' Association says it's common for students to have problems with StudyLink. It says the provider needs to be more responsive to complaints and queries.

Association president Nick McDonnell adds that StudyLink has shut down its campus offices, thus making it harder for students to contact it.

He says the organisation should provide response teams on campus during high-pressure times.

StudyLink general manager Wendy Beban says they sent only one form to Ms Huls, but Radio New Zealand has seen three copies.

Mrs Beban refuses to admit its records may be flawed, but says it sometimes does make mistakes.

Filling out forms can be frustrating, she says, but it's important that students do so.