Ucas, the university’s admissions service, agreed to stop advertising private student loans following pressure from consumer credit expert Martin Lewis and a criticism from the Charity Commission.
Lewis and his organization Money Saving Expert criticized Ucas last year as “flawed” for marketing business loans to students as young as 18 through its mailing lists, after advertising for a private provider that offered loans of up to £ 40,000.
Ucas, a charity that processes admissions on behalf of UK universities and colleges, has announced that its media affiliate will temporarily stop working with private loan companies while it establishes a new advisory board to review its policies.
“It is clear that funding options continue to evolve and the cost of living in college is a key factor for students. It is our responsibility to help students understand and navigate all of their choices, ”Ucas said.
“As this is a developing market, we listen to feedback from students and valued colleagues in education and finance, including Money Saving Expert, to ensure we provide students with the choices. suitable, including those which are commercially available. Based on this feedback, we have decided to suspend our activity with private credit companies, and no further activity is currently planned.
“With our new Ucas Media Advisory Group, for which we are currently recruiting, we will continue to examine this mature market and further develop a set of principles to incorporate into our advertising framework. “
Lewis praised the decision, saying: “When the General Manager of Ucas agreed to meet with me on this matter, we had a solid meeting, during which I made it clear to them what I was doing. thought of a charity – with a near monopolistic communication position with young students – promoting costly and costly debt to students.
“The fact that he has agreed to suspend the ads is a good start – and we are grateful that the senior Ucas team are ready to listen.”
Ucas said half of its income comes from its commercial media subsidiary, which it uses to reduce filing fees. Ucas charges students £ 25 to apply to two or more universities or colleges.
He was warned by the Charity Commission about maintaining the independence of its non-charitable subsidiary. “Charities hold important positions of trust in society, so it is essential that any relationship with non-charitable organizations is clear to those the charity is created to help,” the commission said.
In 2018, Ucas received £ 27million in fees, including nearly £ 14million from applicants. Its business subsidiary, Ucas Media, reported revenues of £ 19million, with profits of £ 4.3million going to Ucas in the form of donations.
The company spent £ 4.7million on administration costs and over £ 6million on distribution. Ucas Media also spent £ 3.8million on “branding and data charges” which is shown as revenue in Ucas accounts.