Loans officials quit after review

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The Independent Online

Two top officials at the Student Loans Company resigned yesterday after a damning report into delays in processing this autumn's loan and grants.

The company confirmed that Wallace Gray, its ITC director, and Martin Herbert, the head of marketing and customer services, had resigned. The chief executive, Ralph Seymour-Jackson, will remain in post. Tens of thousands of students faced delays to their loan and grant payments this year as the SLC struggled to keep up with demand.

A report into the delays, published earlier this month, found there had been "conspicuous failures" which had had a "far-reaching impact" on students. John Goodfellow, chairman of the SLC board, apologised for the problems again and said: "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." He added: "We would like to say sorry again to those customers who have been so let down by us over the last few months."

Professor Deian Hopkin's review of the problems faced by the SLC blamed technical, management and services failures at the company for the "poor experience" of the many students using the system. It found problems with the SLC's processing system, and said it had failed to keep students informed. During the peak of the problems, just 5 per cent of calls to a helpline were being answered. In response to the report, Mr Goodfellow said the company would "strengthen and restructure the senior management team".

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