SLC loses its heads

Two top managers leave as Sir Deian Hopkin takes over as interim chairman. Rebecca Attwood reports

The heads of the troubled Student Loans Company are to step down.

John Goodfellow, the chair of the SLC, and Ralph Seymour-Jackson, the company’s chief executive, are both leaving, it was announced today.

Sir Deian Hopkin, the former vice-chancellor of London South Bank University, who led a review into the SLC and called for an overhaul of senior management in the wake of processing blunders, has been appointed the new chairman on an interim basis.

Universities were forced to make emergency loans to thousands of students at the start of the 2009-10 academic year because the SLC failed to process their applications in time.

Vince Cable, the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, said: “Last year’s crisis in the Student Loans Company caused real upset for students and their families, many of whom lost confidence in the system. We must avoid a repetition of the problems. I believe a new chair and chief executive will provide the fresh leadership needed to deliver the remaining changes necessary for an improved service.”

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, said that last year’s service had fallen short of what students and their parents had a right to expect.

“While improvements have been put in place since last year, we are not out of the woods yet,” he said. “Having read the latest report on the SLC by PricewaterhouseCoopers, it is clear that urgent changes to the leadership are needed to ensure that students get the service they deserve. We have appointed Sir Deian Hopkin as interim chair, and the board is finalising the appointment of an interim chief executive.

“Their experience will strengthen the company and help restore confidence in the system for students and their parents and help keep this year’s service on track.”

Aaron Porter, president-elect of the National Union of Students, said: “This is an opportunity for the Student Loans Company to put its previous calamitous reputation firmly behind it.”

Sir Deian is a member of Times Higher Education’s editorial board.

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