Student Loans Company ticked off for breaching rules

03 Dec 2009

To add to its current failings over the late processing of student loans - which have left thousands of students without loans and grants  - the Student Loans Company has just had its knuckles rapped for a failure to publish statistics.

The UK Statistics Authority has just published notice that the Student Loans Company committed a breach of the Code of Practice on the release of statistics to the public.

The breach occurred on the 10th November when the SLC first published, but then withdrew, its figures on the levels of processing student applications for financial support.

 Although they were published as required at 09.30  on that day, they were then withdrawn pending a press release due from the SLC. The figures did not reappear until 12.00 midday.

The reason given for this breach of the Code of Practice was due to a misunderstanding between the press office at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the SLC. It appears the BIS press office wanted the figures to be published separately from a SLC press notice so the figures would be seen to be independent of policy comment. But the SLC 'misinterpreted this as an instruction that the figures themselves needed to be delayed'.

When the error was spotted the figures were reinstated on the SLC website.

The UK Statistics Authority - which has highlighted the breach - says that as the delay was for only two and a half hours there was 'no material impact' . But it ruled that 'the breach has revealed the need for greater understanding of official protocols within the SLC'.

The full announcement about the breach is at: http://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/news/index.html

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