Surprise bill

November 23, 2017

The recent National Audit Office report on private higher education providers fails to address grave shortcomings in the conduct of the Student Loans Company (“NAO: still no ‘firm grip’ on English private provider ‘problems’”, News, 26 October).

Earlier this year, the SLC told Nelson College London that it was subjecting it to “clawback” of more than £190,000 that it claimed had been wrongly advanced to us in payment of the tuition fees of 48 students. The students concerned had, at various times since 2012, been deemed eligible for SLC support, but have now apparently been deemed to have been ineligible. No reasons have been advanced as to why this volte-face has occurred, and the prospects of our recouping the fees from the students are remote. In effect, we have educated these students for free.

The SLC claims that it is within its rights in revisiting student eligibility at any time of its choosing – a year, five years, 10 years, perhaps 50 years hence. This state of affairs represents a substantial open-ended financial risk for all English approved providers of higher education courses, which their audited accounts will of course need to reflect.

Geoffrey Alderman
Principal, Nelson College London

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