The Student Loans Company is hoping to build better bridges with higher education institutions by appointing a former leading Scottish administrator as a special adviser.
Ronald Crawford, who recently took early retirement as secretary of the Scottish Higher Education Principals, has begun his liaison role by launching a series of meetings with higher education institutions. He wants to hear any concerns about the way the student loan scheme operates, stressing that he is not an SLC employee: "I see that as a strength, because it ensures my neutrality," he said.
"I am not a spokesman and not an apologist for the company. This is part of a recognition of the need to construct more robust links with the sector."
Dr Crawford, who also administers the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals' access advisory partnership, plans to invite university staff to the SLC's headquarters to see how it operates.
Dr Crawford said the Department for Education and Employment was responsible to government for the design and operation of the student loans scheme.
An SLC spokeswoman said the introduction of the current student support scheme alongside the "mortgage-style" loan scheme now being phased out meant institutions and the company were having to work together: "Increased activities require increased communication, and this is the principal reason for the strengthening of day-to-day links with the HE sector."