Man that helped build original students loan system says new online version is hard work

I was with a former EDS executive last week and he was telling me about the problems he is having sorting out the student loan for his son, who has just started university. He says the new online system is really difficult to use and that “the overall process is much more complex than it used to be.”

The interesting thing is he was the project leader at EDS for the original students loan system. It was all paper based with applications sent through the post. He lead a team that built the system underpinning student loans.

I was at university in the mid 90’s and in those days being online was not that common. Being wired was nothing to do with computers and gadgets.

Anyway in 1990 EDS build the computer system supporting the student loans application process and then supported it for five years. The system was built by EDS using IBM technology.

The government now is making a bit of positive noise around its online student loans application system, or student finance system as it is known, because it is the only one of its 25 systems in its digital transformation that has actually gone live. These are the systems that are theoretically being developed using agile methodology. You know the ones, cheaper to built and more user friendly.

I think this unhappiness might be an example of the users being unhappy from the start. You are taking out a massive loan to pay both fees and living allowances. Of course you are going to find it tough to fill in forms that lead to huge debts.

When I was a student it was great. More money to spend at the pub…on books. In those days fees were paid for so we were more than happy to fill in a few forms.

Like any system if the users are against using it in the first place it is unlikely they will sing its praises.