Student Loans Company to upgrade online data for graduates

More frequent information from HMRC allows update to technology criticised by education officials last year

Credit: Johnny Green/PA

Graduates will have online access to more accurate information on student finance later this year, as a result of more frequent data-sharing between HM Revenue and Customs and the Student Loans Company.

SLC, which is a non-departmental public body, will make the new online system live during 2020, replacing annual paper statements unless graduates want to continue to receive them. “Student loans can remain part of graduates’ lives for many years, so it’s only right we do all we can to improve the system for them,” education secretary Gavin Williamson said.

The update is possible as the result by a statutory instrument passed by parliament in February 2019, meaning that from April last year HMRC has sent SLC data weekly or monthly, depending on when graduates are paid.

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Student loan repayments are deducted from pay by HMRC along with income tax and National Insurance contributions. But until last April HMRC had passed on collection data just once a year to SLC, meaning its information on loans was generally months out of date with some students overpaying as a result.

SLC’s technology was criticised in a report by officials from the Department for Education last July, which said: “The SLC’s current technology architecture was created in the 1990s for a much simpler, lower-volume service [and] the need to upgrade the SLC’s ageing systems and adopt new technologies is now critical.”

Sam Trendall

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