Studentloans chief`to clear backlog'
Thursday 22 December 1994
Sir Eric, who took up his post following the departure of the chief executive, Ron Harrison, said he would review every aspect of the company's operation to ensure it"purrs like a Rolls-Royce with a BMW engine".
He said officials of the state-owned company - which has been dogged by allegations of inefficiency, mismanagement and financial irregularities - hadmade "fundamental mistakes" in trying to process loan applications for Britain's 300,000 students using a"fast-track" system. Working practices would be re-assessed "on the basis that they are guilty until proven innocent".
About 35,000 outstanding loan applications from students for the 1994-95 academic year would be processed and money paid by February, Sir Eric promised.
New procedures would be introduced in the New Year to ensure that students applying for loans next year would not suffer similar "drastic, awful and totally unacceptable delays".
Sir Eric, Professor of Physics at University College London who joined the company as a director earlier this year, declined to comment on the reasons for Mr Harrison's departure. Mr Harrison has been at the centre of allegations that senior officials used company funds to support a lavish lifestyle.
When leaked documents revealed that Mr Harrison had spent more than £1,000 on whisky, cigars, tickets to rock concerts and cricket matches, he was accused of incurring excessive expenses. Company officials said the money had been spent on legitimate corporate entertainment.
But last month, after fresh allegations of spending irregularities, the Department for Education and the National Audit Office asked the accountancy firm, Coopers & Lybrand, to carry out "a forensic audit" of the company. Its report is expected early next year.
A company statement issued earlier this week said Mr Harrison was "absent owing to ill-health". A spokesman said he was expected to return to his post in the New Year. But one senior official at the firm's Glasgow headquarters confirmed yesterday that hewould not be returning. "Mr Harrison has gone for good," he said.
Stephen Byers, Labour MP for Wallsend, who has called for an inquiry into the running of the company under Mr Harrison's leadership, yesterday welcomed Sir Eric's comments. He said: "It is encouraging that Sir Eric seems to want to sweep away the mess ofthe past."
Students also responded to Mr Harrison's departure by calling for a public inquiry into the student loans system after months of chaos caused by a change in the system designed to speed up payments to them.
The National Union of Students in Scotland has demanded an early meeting with Sir Eric to discuss the situation.
Thousands of students waited in vain for their loans last term as the company struggled to clear a backlog of payments. Ministers promised in Parliament that the problem would be solved by Christmas but many are still waiting.
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Kim Jong-un 'purge': Six North Korea officials missing for weeks 'may have been executed'
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nathan Cirillo: Final pictures emerge of soldier moments before he was shot dead by Ottowa gunman
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...
£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...
£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...
£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...