Planned departure

June 7, 2012

Recent reports that seek to link Ed Lester's planned departure from the Student Loans Company to media coverage of the previous tax arrangements in his contract are factually inaccurate ("Student Loans Company chief to stand down", www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, 25 May).

The facts are that Lester was appointed the SLC's interim chief executive officer in 2010. Since then he has turned the company around and his leadership has been outstanding. He is highly regarded by the SLC board, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and colleagues across the higher education sector.

Following the period as interim CEO, Lester was offered a fixed two-year contract as substantive CEO from January 2011. This contract is due to expire in January 2013, and Lester has always made clear his intention to move to a new role at that time. As recruitment to such senior posts in the public sector can be protracted, we have started the process to recruit his successor now to ensure that they are in place prior to his leaving.

Lester's planned departure from the SLC has always been a matter of public record. It is in no way linked to the tax arrangements in his contract agreed by BIS, the Treasury, HM Revenue and Customs and the head of the Civil Service.

Ed Smith, Chairman, Student Loans Company

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