Oct 26, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

The UK’s Student Loans Company (SLC) processed more than 1.8 million applications, made more than seven million payments totaling £18.2 billion, and managed more than eight million customers with repayment obligations of approximately £117.8 billion during the 2017-2018 financial year. The organization also made mistakes during that time resulting in ex gratia compensation in more than 100 cases, according to its annual report. Here’s a closer look at the figures.

Complaints and Appeals

The SLC received 191 complaints -- a near ten percent increase from the previous two years -- pertaining to a range of issues, including processing, grant overpayment, advice given, and income-contingent repayment (ICR). Of these, 146 cases were recommended for ex gratia payment totaling £34,025.58.

Over the same period of time, the SLC reviewed 110 appeals related to matters including “unfitted” students, previous study/ELQ, residency, overpayment/repayment, funding entitlement, migrant workers, and postgraduate loans. Of these, 17 cases were recommended for ex gratia compensation adding up to £5,275.

The report explains, “We are very conscious that we only see an unrepresentative sample of some of the worst cases. Many millions of customers will have received a satisfactory service from the SLC. The great majority of the small proportion of customers who are moved to make a complaint are satisfied with the response they receive at the first or second stage of the internal system.”

Ongoing Troubles

The SLC has faced its share of struggles in recent history, including the department of its chief executive for “gross misconduct” and being named the “worst place to work” based on worker comments on Glassdoor.co.uk and Indeed.co.uk. One finance assessor wrote, “I cannot emphasize enough what a soul-destroying place to work this is. Many of the staff want to do the best for the students but their hands are tied by substandard, not-fit-for purpose systems, and team leaders and management who seem to go out of their way to make things hard for customers.”

According to the SLC annual report, however, things are on the upswing: Over the past seven years, satisfaction levels among people applying for student aid has increased by more than five percent from 78.9 percent to 84.1 percent while satisfaction among repayers has remained consistent despite increases across both borrowing and interest payable.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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