GuildHE welcomes the independent view provided by the National Audit Office report examining circumstances in England of the delivery of loans to students last summer and the processing of applications from student for a range of financial support. The report describes the customer service provided to students in 2009 by the Student Loans Company (SLC) as poor and confirms that there were major problems in the processing of applications and in communications with applicants.

Alice Hynes CEO of GuildHE, said: “The NAO’s study vindicates the complaints last year from students and those working to support them within the HE provider institutions. It firmly reinforces the position diagnosed in the incisive report from Professor Sir Deian Hopkin in December. The difficulties it describes in the SLC’s interaction with those seeking Disabled Student’s Allowance are especially concerning – as much because it was the complex cases that were set aside, yet often those being the most in need of support.”

She added “These reports provide a framework for action and the SLC and its Board must respond accordingly. The sector is going to be watching closely and hoping to gain reassurance that changes being promised are being made. GuildHE would like to see the SLC taking up existing good practices in student interaction from the sector. The students applying this year want to know that there will be no repeat of last year’s confusion and disruption. We welcome therefore the move from the Minister for Higher Education, David Lammy to put in place a further independent check on progress by appointing PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). In the end though it is the SLC and its Board that must restore the HE sector’s confidence in its processes through demonstrably improved delivery.”

GuildHE was pleased to respond to the invitation from the Minister for Higher Education David Lammy to help SLC improve its interaction with students and stakeholders through the creation of a Stakeholder Forum. Under the Chairmanship of Professor Andrew Wathey, Vice Chancellor of Northumbria University, GuildHE has joined with NUS, UUK, AoC, UCAS and AMOSSHE to establish the Forum as watchdog for this critical area.

For more information, please contact:

Alice Hynes, CEO GuildHE,

tel. 0207 387 7711

alice.hynes@guildhe.ac.uk

 

Notes
 
1. The NAO report will be available from Friday 19 March on their website

2. The Stakeholder Forum, chaired by Professor Andrew Wathey, will hold its first meeting next week.
 

3. The NAO report follows the Hopkin Review (December 2009) commissioned by the Department and Company. The NAO report endorses the recommendations of the Hopkin Review, and goes further by interrogating performance and financial data, surveying students and evaluating ongoing risks.

 
4. GuildHE is an inclusive body, with members across universities, university colleges and specialist institutions. The members include many institutions with a specialist mission or subject focus and major providers in art and design, music and the performing arts, agriculture, education and health.
 

5. GuildHE members are among the most dynamic and fastest-growing institutions in higher education. For a list of GuildHE institutions, please click here

 

 

 

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