Student Loans Company
The Student Loans Company (SLC) is a not for profit company in the United Kingdom that provides student loans. It is owned by the UK Government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (85%), the Scottish Government (5%), the Welsh Government (5%) and the Northern Ireland Executive (5%). The SLC is funded entirely by the UK government and the devolved administrations. It is responsible for both providing loans to students, as well as collecting loan repayments alongside HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The SLC's head office is in Glasgow, with other offices in Darlington and Llandudno.
The (Non-executive) Chair of this institution, Christian Brodie (Mr), has been with the SLC since February 2014. Mick Laverty, an accountant who was previously "Chief Executive of Advantage West Midlands" (in charge at the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands), is the SLC's Accounting Officer and Chief Executive, a position to which he was appointed in January 2013.
The SLC was established in 1989 to provide loans and grants to students studying in the UK. From 1990 to 1998 these were mortgage-style loans, which were aimed at helping students with the cost of living and repaid directly to the SLC. From 1998 with the introduction of tuition fees in the UK, the SLC instead began providing loans under an income-contingent repayment (ICR) scheme, to cover the cost of the fees as well as living costs. Repayments for these loans were collected by HMRC via the PAYE tax system. The ICR loan scheme was replaced with a new ICR scheme in 2012 to include a longer repayment period following an increase in tuition fees.
Student loan book sales
In the late 1990s, the government sold two tranches of the mortgage-style loans to investors. Firstly in 1998 to Greenwich NatWest raising £1bn, and secondly in 1999 to Deutsche Bank and the Nationwide Building Society, also raising £1bn. The SLC's remaining mortgage-style loans, for which payments were mostly in arrears, were sold to a consortium, Erudio Student Loans, in 2013 for £160m. In 2014, the government indicated that it would start selling the SLC's £12bn book of 1998 - 2012 ICR loans to improve the UK public finances.
In July 2014, the SLC was accused of using controversial tactics akin to those of the payday loans company Wonga after it was discovered that it had been sending out letters from what appeared to be an independent debt collection agency called Smith Lawson & Company.  (In June 2014, Wonga had been ordered to pay £2.6 million in compensation for sending customers letters from fictitious debt recovery firms”.). The SLC announced it was suspending the use of the letters, which it said had used the “secondary brand” (which small print at the bottom of the letters indicated was a trading name of the Student Loans Company) to avoid paying fees to a conventional debt collection agency.
- "Remit". Student Loans Company.
- "Services". Student Loans Company.
- ""About Us: Board". Student Loans Company. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
- "Company to profit from chasing student debts". Times Higher Education.
- "Ageing student loans sold to debt firms". BBC News.
- "Government to sell £12bn of student loans to cut deficit". The Telegraph.
- Poulter, Sean & Clark, Laura (July 2014). “Student loans firm shamed into axing fake legal threats: Company admits sending 300,000 graduates letters over past decade”, The Daily Mail, 1 July 2014. Accessed 3 July 2014
- BBC News (25 June 2014) “Wonga chased debt using fake law firms, says FCA”, Retrieved 25 June 2024
- Times Higher Education, No. 2,159, 3-9 July 2014, pg. 4