Kafka, student loans and not being who I say I am

“You can’t go away when you’re under arrest.”


“That’s how it seems,” said K. “And why am I under arrest?” he then asked.


“That’s something we’re not allowed to tell you. Go into your room and wait there. Proceedings are underway and you’ll learn about everything all in good time. It’s not really part of my job to be friendly towards you like this,”

Franz Kafka had obviously had dealings with Student Finance England. That’s my conclusion, at the end of a day spent trying to sort out loans for our daughter to get to university.

Me and Mrs T been trying to speak to Student Finance England (SFE), but can’t access our details because we fail the security question asking for our address. We have given our current address, and just for luck, all our addresses for the past 15 years. None of these will allow us to access the account details – and SFE can’t check what the address they have is, because… we can’t pass the security question.

This all started in June; so as well as the calls, we have written, and have received a standard reply which says SFE will need our Customer Reference Number. To get that, we just need to access our account by calling, and answering the security questions. Er…

The supervisor slammed the box of matches down on the table. “You’re making a big mistake,” he said. “These gentlemen and I have got nothing to do with your business, in fact we know almost nothing about you. We could be wearing uniforms as proper and exact as you like and your situation wouldn’t be any the worse for it. As to whether you’re on a charge, I can’t give you any sort of clear answer to that, I don’t even know whether you are or not. You’re under arrest, you’re quite right about that, but I don’t know any more than that.

Student Finance England seems to be a trading names of the Student Loans Company, but, in conversations with the call centre staff, they have confirmed that they are not employed by SFE; they refused to give me details of who they were employed by.

So there’s certainly some minor bureaucratic incompetence, definitely a failure in the designs of SFE’s systems, probably our information being posted to somebody else’s address, and possibly a serious breach of data protection, as somebody may be fraudulently using our names and details registered to another address.

More importantly – we don’t know how we can secure the necessary finance to enable our daughter to take the place she has been offered at Northampton University. 

But whatever’s going on, SFE can’t tell us, because we may not be us. I’m going to re-read Kafka’s The Trial this evening, see if that can give me any advice. but from what I remember, it doesn’t end well.


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