In the news

August 20, 1999

The Student Loans Company may be very much in the news this week, but its chief executive, Colin Ward, prefers to stay out of the limelight.

A former chief accountant with the Scottish Development Agency, the 52-year old Mr Ward joined the SLC in 1990. He was responsible for setting up the company's main processing operations and divisions, later taking on responsibility for strategic planning and information technology. He was distanced from the 1995 fiasco, however, during which there was an outcry over a loans backlog of several weeks, and was then brought in as a trouble shooter.

The following year, Mr Ward took over as chief executive after his predecessor, Ron Harrison, was removed from the post for "financial irregularities" that "brought himself and the company into disrepute", according to a government investigation.

It found that Mr Harrison had spent Pounds 350 in two months on spirits for the boardroom, more than Pounds 60 on cigars and Pounds 82.20 for tickets to a Dire Straits concert. Mr Ward said at the time the perks were "not a major loss to the taxpayer: hundreds of pounds were involved. It was more a behavioural issue."

Since becoming chief executive, Mr Ward has overseen the sale of Pounds 2 billion worth of loans to the private sector.

Mr Ward graduated from Heriot-Watt University in 1970. He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1974 while working for Ernst and Young. Since then he has been employed by Price Waterhouse and the British Steel Corporation, where he worked in a division manufacturing tubing for the lucrative North Sea oil industry, before spending 13 years at the Scottish Development Agency.

He is married and lists his hobbies as sailing, hill-walking, gardening, armchair sports and classical music.

People is edited by Harriet Swain and researched by Lynne Williams.

Send all information to Lynne Williams The THES Admiral House 66-68 East Smithfield London E1 9XY Tel 0171 782 3375 Email lynne.williams Full listings of grants, appointments and honours appear on The THES website

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