Student loans company chairman sacked
The chairman of the beleaguered Student Loans Company was sacked by ministers, it emerged today.
Chief executive Ralph Seymour-Jackson has also stepped down after new universities minister David Willetts indicated he had "no confidence" in him, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said.
Mr Willetts asked chairman John Goodfellow to leave and told him that while it was a matter for the board, he had no confidence in Mr Seymour-Jackson.
It comes after a healthcheck of the SLC - ordered after last year's widespread delays to payments - found there are still causes for concern.
Tens of thousands of students faced delays to their loan and grant payments last year as the SLC struggled to keep up with demand.
A damning report into the delays, published at the end of last year, found there had been "conspicuous failures" which had a "far-reaching impact" on students.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said: "Universities Minister David Willetts asked Mr Goodfellow to step down and indicated to him that while it is a decision for the board, he had no confidence in Mr Seymour-Jackson."
A check-up ordered by the previous government today concluded that it was "surprised by the lack of focus and urgency" in addressing the recommendations made in Professor Sir Deian Hopkin's report in November.
The Hopkin report laid blame on technical, management and services failures at the company for the "poor experience" of the many students using the system.
PricewaterhouseCooper's healthcheck found that as of the middle of April, 264,000 applications had been registered - around 30% of the expected total of 880,000 this year.
Of those registered, 114,000 have been processed for payment, 117,000 are pending and 25,000 are currently being dealt with.
It means the SLC will need to deal with a maximum of 760,000 applications in around 100 working days up to the end of September, assuming that all applications are received by the deadline.
The report also found that the SLC's call centres are short of 100 people needed to meet call targets at the peak of applications.
And the company has failed to provide their customers with assurances they need to rebuild the relationships that were damaged by last year's events.
The SLC's executive team is "under-resourced, stretched and unable to give the breadth of leadership and direction required through the next five months of this year," it says.
The report concludes: "The resilience of the organisation to deal with crisis and frame appropriate interventions - particularly in terms of governance, leadership and the progress still required on provision of operational management information - is still in a state that gives cause for concern."
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Last year's crisis in the Student Loans Company caused real upset for students and their families, many of whom lost confidence in the system. We must avoid a repetition of the problems.
"I believe a new chair and chief executive will provide the fresh leadership needed to deliver the remaining changes necessary for an improved service to customers this summer."
Mr Willetts added: "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."
Sir Deian has been appointed interim chair.
The chairman of the SLC is appointed by ministers, while the role of chief executive is a matter for the SLC's board.
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let’s see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
£110 - £120 per day + TBA: Randstad Education Reading: ICT Teacher needed for ...
£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Nursery teaching job avail...
£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The JobRandstad Educa...