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Student Loans Company to enlist IT suppliers for £200m transformation plan

Suppliers are being sought to support intended improvements to Student Loans Company's customer interface and technology estate

The Student Loans Company (SLC) has started a new phase of its intended transformation with the planned appointment of a number of technology suppliers that will support the program.

A new procurement exercise started on 26 February 2020 in partnership with the Department for Education (DfE) and the Cabinet Office. It aims to “transform the commercial framework and delivery models leveraged across SLC’s estate when working with strategic technology partners”.

The first stage of the supplier procurement will see SLC launch a £200m contract for the development of what the SLC labels “customer-enablement services” – that is, a platform intended to improve the organisation’s customer interface and associated technology estate.

The deal will be awarded in the third quarter of financial year 2020/21 via Lot 4a of the Crown Commercial Services Technology Services 2 framework.

“This is the first stage of delivering a new technology model that will see us working with a small number of strategic partners to develop, deliver and support our technology estate and digital services to customers,” said SLC’s CIO Stephen Campbell.

“I am confident that such an approach will deliver higher standards of service while delivering value for our customers and shareholders,” he added.

Campbell was appointed as CIO in August 2019 to lead the technology strategy and delivery of technology systems that cater for SLC customers and partners across government.

His appointment followed a major review by the DfE into the non-departmental body, which concluded that a complete transformation of the SLC’s IT would be needed in the next four years to address tech-related issues, which led to millions of pounds worth of repayment collections lost or leaked every year.

With around 3,500 employees and a student loan book totalling more than £135bn under management, the SLC’s operation is comparable to a medium-sized bank, and it services 8.5 million customers and two million applications per year, of which 93.5% are made online.

According to the review by the DfE, a number of the SLC’s core systems are under-supported and/or out of date. The inflexibility of the technology architecture is also an issue compounded by the niche nature of the skillsets required to manage and modify it and the high levels of staff attrition at the organisation.

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