The chief executive of the Student Loans Company, which administers the UK’s £100 billion student loan book, has been suspended.
Steve Lamey was suspended “pending an investigation into concerns which have been raised”, the company said in a statement on 13 July.
Mr Lamey had taken up his post only last year, having previously held a number of senior roles at HM Revenue and Customs.
A Student Loans Company spokeswoman said: “On 11 July 2017, the Student Loans Company, in consultation with the Department for Education, took the decision to suspend the chief executive pending an investigation into concerns which have been raised.
“The suspension is a neutral act and does not imply wrongdoing. As the matters leading to suspension are now subject to an independent investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
According to The Guardian, another senior member of staff at the company has been ordered to take “gardening leave”.
The news comes amid growing concern about the state of England’s student finance system, with support for the system of £9,000-plus fees wavering among vice-chancellors, according to a Times Higher Education survey.
This came after the perceived success of Labour’s policy to scrap fees in the general election and a damning report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies highlighting the regressive nature of changes, made after the trebling of fees, to abolish maintenance grants and freeze the loan repayment threshold at £21,000.
But THE understands that Mr Lamey’s suspension is not linked to the current debate around fees and funding.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that the Student Loans Company board in consultation with the DfE has suspended its chief executive officer.
“The matters leading to suspension are currently subject to an independent investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment while this is ongoing.
“We are confident that SLC operations will not be detrimentally affected as a result of this issue.”
The value of the student loan book in England – covering tuition fee and maintenance loans – now stands at £89.3 billion. UK-wide, the total figure stands at £100.5 billion.