Two Directors of the Student Loans Company have resigned after the massive delays in this year’s student loan payments.
Wallace Gray, director of IT, and Martin Herbert, director of marketing and customer service, both resigned from the SLC’s board after a damning report from an inquiry into the payment problems.
The inquiry, which was headed up by Professor Sir Deian Hopkin, stated that the SLC had shown a “conspicuous failure” to deliver the service. The inquiry blamed the failures on “management indecision and over-optimism”.
During the course of the inquiry, it was discovered that the board of the SLC had failed to take quick and appropriate action when the new computer system that was used to process applications failed. This led to staff having to manually input applications themselves.
The inquiry went further and stated that these technical difficulties were made even worse by the SLC’s ‘shut doors policy’ of not communicating, or engaging with, universities, Students Unions and the press about the problems they were having.
A student from St Hilda’s said “I was waiting over a month for my loan payment and had to go massively into my overdraft until it arrived.”
The Shadow Universities and Skills Secretary, David Willetts said, “This year’s student finance fiasco has been a disaster for students and a disaster for the reputation of ministers. The Government explicitly changed the system of student finance promising that it would be faster and more efficient. But in the first year of its operation the new system went into meltdown and ministers did not act despite warnings that serious problems were emerging.”
He further commented, “Ministers should hang their heads in shame, both for their serial failure and their attempt to pass the buck.”
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that nobody was available for comment.
Meanwhile, the NUS has expressed surprise that the head of the SLC, Ralph Seymour-Jackson, has remained in place, stating, “it will be difficult for students and their families to view Ralph Seymour-Jackson as part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”
The SLC has responded, “We are determined to do whatever it takes to ensure processing and payments are faster next year, so that we can deliver the service that students and their parents have every right to expect. We would like to say sorry again to those customers who have been so let down by us over the last few months.”
It has been suggested that 28,000 students are still waiting to receive their loans and grants.