Resignations follow student loan nightmare

With the start of this academic year marred by the collapse of Student Finance England and financial turmoil for over 100,000 new and returning students, many expected inquiries and resignations. Five months on this has finally been achieved, albeit only to a degree.

Published last month the Independent enquiry carried out by Sir Deian Hopkin, snappily titled  “Review of the delivery of financial support to students in England by the Student Loans Company for the academic year 2009/10 and plans for academic year 2010/11” examines why so many applications were not processed and how such problems can be avoided next year. Coming to the conclusion that the problems stemmed from untried scanning technology, management decisions and the prevailing “inward-looking and process-driven” culture at SFE; the forty-nine page report goes into considerable detail.

Following the release of the Hopkin report two Directors, Wallace Gray and Martin Herbert have since resigned. Responsible for SFE’s computer network and customer services, both of which came under considerable criticism, these resignations mark more of a sacrificial offering rather than a restructuring of SFE management. Ralph Seymour-Williams, Chief Executive of the company will remain in his post.

In addition to an examination of why so many students were left waiting Sir Deian’s report lists a number of recommendations that should avoid a repeat of this year’s fiasco. With application forms for loans and grants already being posted to students across the country it appears that SFE would plans to start the process as early as possible however without first addressing their own internal failings a repeat of Augusts breakdown seems almost inevitable.

The publication of this report and resignation of two draws to a close the derisory tale of SFE that has now dragged on for five long months. It can only now be hoped that the start of the academic year does not witness a repeat of such a catalogue of errors.

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