Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Student says she will strip over loan delays

By Angela Harrison
BBC News education reporter

Sex worker in soho
There have been reports in the past about students working in the sex industry

A student says she is about to start work as a stripper because of debts she has run up while waiting for her student loan to come through.

The student says she is desperate after borrowing all the money she can from family and friends.

The first person from her family to go to university, she says she cannot let them down by dropping out for a year.

"I've tried my hardest. It is not the way I wanted to start uni, but my rent is due", she said.

The 20-year-old, who is studying in London and has been doing temporary jobs, says she plans to go to Leeds next week to work in a strip club there.

"I used to live in Leeds and know a couple of girls who work there, I know the club will be safe. They have bouncers there and everything.

My mum is so proud of me. She thinks I am down here in London having a great time

"I would obviously much prefer to not have to do this, but I don't have much choice as my parents cannot give me any more money," she told the BBC News website.

She says she has borrowed money from her father and sisters already, thinking that she would be able to repay them once her loan came through.

"I haven't told them about what I am thinking of doing. My mum is so proud of me. She thinks I am down here in London having a great time.

"I don't want to ruin it."

She is one of thousands of students - mainly first years in England - who have been caught up in delays in the processing of applications by the Student Loans Company (SLC).

There is an inquiry into the problems which is due to report before Christmas.

She says she applied for her student loan in May and then did not think any more about it until August, when her friends started talking about their loans and then she wondered why she had not heard anything from the SLC.

Her main worry until then had been finding somewhere to live.

"It was only then I found out there was a problem because someone else had the same National Insurance number as me."

"I don't think I will get my loan through until after Christmas."

First in family

The student sounds like just the kind of person the government is keen to see go to university.

The first one from her family to go into higher education, she dropped out of school after her AS-levels and went to work in a cafe.

"I wanted to earn some money. I was working in a coffee shop on the minimum wage and realised I was not making the most of myself so I did an access course to get to university.

"I had always loved [the subject she is taking] but this is the worst way I could possibly have started university."

I don't want to do it, but I know some other girls there who will look after me

After talking to BBC News, she approached her university for a hardship grant and they have given her £400.

It is a welcome help but she says the university will not be able to help her any further.

She owes thousands of pounds to her father and siblings, which she borrowed to pay for a deposit and rent on a home in London, but a new rent payment is looming.

"I will go to Leeds next week to see some friends and I think I will just stay there a couple of days more to work in the club," she says.

"I don't want to do it. But I know some other girls who do it there and they have said they will look after me and show me what to do," she said.

She has not stripped before, she says. She thinks she will earn "anything from nothing to a thousand pounds" in a shift at a club.

"In Leeds, it's all out in the open, girls I know from college work in the strip clubs there.

"They always had loads of money and I asked them how they did it."

She feels she has exhausted all her other options.

"I am resigned to it," she says.

"No one else has any money to lend me."

Details in this article have been limited to protect the student's privacy.

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