Government review of Student Loans Company finds ‘overwhelmed and outdated IT’
Organisation’s tech and digital set-up needs improvement, report finds
The Student Loans Company (SLC) needs to address an “overwhelmed and outdated infrastructure”, a government review has found.
Over the last seven months, officials from the Department for Education have been conducting a tailored review of the non-departmental public body. The newly published results of this review show that, during 2018/19, the company met or exceeded 38 of 43 performance targets.
Despite this good performance the company still faces a number of challenges – chief among them an IT set-up that is increasingly showing signs of age and “fragility”.
The DfE report said that “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”.
The company has ended up with “a fragmented digital offering and an inflexible ICT estate”, and also faces issues relating to cybersecurity risks and quality of data.
- DfE invests in apps to ‘revolutionise’ career advice for students
- By students, for students – digital life at the University of Lincoln
- DfE seeks digital partner to help it ‘transform from a policy to a delivery department’
While SLC has taken steps in the last four years to update its systems, such work has typically and been piecemeal and “there has been no clear IT roadmap”, according to the report.
As well as an ageing tech estate, the company has also failed to keep pace with the increased popularity and functionality of online services.
The report said: “Although digital delivery improvements have been made, paper applications remain the only option for some of the more specialist product offerings and the SLC acknowledges that, on the whole, its service does not always meet the expectations of its digitally enabled customer base.”
The organisation has now set out on a four-pronged transformation strategy, through which it intends to deliver additional digital functions for customers, a modernised IT infrastructure, improved management and operations, and better fraud-detection measures.
The review makes three recommendations in relation to IT and data.
The first of these is that SLC should “consider how it can enhance and embed peer support for its tech and digital transformation plans”.
The second suggestion is that the company should define and implement best practice in the areas of cybersecurity and resilience.
The final instruction is that it should continue working with the Government Digital Service to improve the online experience it provides for users. In doing so, it should also seek to learn from other digital projects across government.
In his foreword to the report, universities minister Chris Skidmore said: “Whilst the SLC is meeting the majority of its targets, it could still improve the customer service and value for money it provides. Previous attempts at addressing these issues have not fully resolved them. However, the lessons learned are being used to shape a new transformation programme that should make it easier, quicker, safer and cheaper for the SLC and its government partners to run the student financing system. The recommendations in this review are focused on developing the enabling environment for such a transformation.”
Launch of initiative follows troubled engagement with Capita
Government's new Innovation Strategy set out ambitious proposals to update processes, eliminate ageing kit, and embrace emerging technologies. PublicTechnology caught up with...
Technology projects awaiting news of future long-term funding will need to wait until 2020
Department to spend £400k exploring creation of digital tool
BT reviews an event looking at how man and machine are working together to drive digital transformation
Migrating to the cloud or moving to a future network can be a risky business. BT explains how managing applications is important for end user experience, productivity and for understanding and...
BT presents a new eGuide, looking at how to build infrastructure able to support growth both now and into the future
BT spoke with Ovum's Brian Washburn about the network trends taking place in 2019, covering SD-WAN, NFV, hybrid networking and cloud connectivity services