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Student Loan Co writes off boss and chairman

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Ralph Seymour-Jackson, the chief executive of the Student Loan Company and its chairman John Goodfellow have fallen on their swords following last year's failures.

An interim chairman has been appointed while the board searches for an interim chief executive.

Problems with the document-scanning system led to long delays for students waiting for their loan applications to be processed. The backlog meant three quarters of English universities had to make emergency payments to students short of rent and food money.

Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said: "Last year the service fell short of what students and their parents had every right to expect.  While improvements have been put in place since last year, we are not out of the woods yet.

“Having read the latest report on the SLC by PricewaterhouseCoopers, it is clear that urgent changes to the leadership are needed to ensure students get the service they deserve."

The report further warns that the contact centre remains about 100 seats short of what is required. PwC said more clarity was needed as to possible infrastructure problems which "might limit SLC's ability to scale up to this level".

PwC also said it was surprised at the lack of focus and urgency shown by the SLC. It warned that the strategy of introducing major system changes at peak time was highly risky.

SLC creates models for applications for loans and for call volumes for its call centres - but it doesn't link the two. The report suggests they should - high levels of unprocessed applications are likely to lead to higher volumes of calls.

PwC also called on the SLC to sort out its relationships with suppliers. It said systems should be improved after the failure of a key system provided by an external supplier contributed to last year's disaster.

An earlier investigation into SLC's problems by the National Audit Office warned that the problems could well reappear this year. ®

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