The news that the Student Loans Company (SLC) paid its staff almost £2 million in bonuses last year is difficult to accept when there are still tens of thousands of students still waiting for their financial support.
It is almost the end of the first term and yet there are still thousands of university students waiting on their first loan instalment. Considering many rely on this funding to pay their rent, this delay is unacceptable. Universites’ student support services, which are already facing tightening budgets, are having to step in to fill the gap created by the SLC.
Bonuses were given to a significant majority of the SLC staff indicating that, overall, the company feels its staff, including top managers, have performed above and beyond what they needed to. Although the payouts are based on the performance of the last academic year, the management issues that have so marred this term did not suddenly appear in June 2009.
It was clear early last year that there would be a huge increase in the number of people applying to university and the SLC should have prepared itself for a rise in its own applications for funding. This preparation and the measures to cope with the increase should have been put in place last year. Clearly, the SLC did either no such thing, or implemented deeply ineffective changes.
The excuse that the bonuses were given out based on the performance of last year is only justifiable if the performances warranted such financial rewards. Considering that the SLC felt its staff worthy of a collective £2 million pay-out, it will be interesting to see the bonuses given out for the current academic year. It might also be worth checking to see whether any of the staff expenses applications have been accidentally lost in the same way as many of those for student funding.