SLC Stakeholder Meeting: February 2016

Key points for cascade - SLC Stakeholder Operations Group (February 2016)

SLC Operational update

The AY 2015/16 Student Finance England (SFE) and Student Finance Wales (SFW) services continue to operate well within processing and call handling targets. As of 7th February SLC had received 1.21 million SFE full-time AY 2015/16 applications (91% of forecasted applications).

As of 7th February SLC had received 67,481 AY 2015/16 SFW full-time applications, which is around 97% of forecasted applications

Postgraduate Loans

Members were provided with an update on Postgraduate Loans. The project continues to go well with all system development on course for service launch. You can learn more about Postgraduate Loans and what institutions need to do at www.heinfo.slc.co.uk/information-advice/postgraduate-loans. Here you will also find the Q&A Document - Edition 1, which has been created from the feedback and questions captured at both the Plenary Sessions and Workshop Table Discussions at the recent Postgraduate Loans Awareness Seminars, together with questions raised elsewhere.

Members were also advised that we are awaiting final clarification from BIS regarding part-time provision and rules around intensity. Once available, further details and information will be released regarding this.

SLC / HEP Repayments Collaboration

A letter has been issued to Vice Chancellors and College Principals highlighting two areas for improved collaborative working between SLC and Higher Education Providers – increasing awareness of repayments and managing the reporting of withdrawals. SLC are now pursing this with the Academic Registrars Council to take forward university awareness and to encourage greater collaboration on repayments information and guidance.

UCAS Update

On Thursday 4th Feb UCAS published their analysis of full-time undergraduate applications considered ‘on time’ for the 15 January deadline. So far, 593,720 people have applied to UK higher education courses in 2016, an increase of 0.2% compared to the same point last year.

Overall, young people from the least advantaged areas of the UK are more likely to apply to higher education than ever before. Also the difference between applications rates from men and women continues to grow. In England, young women are 36% more likely to apply to university and when both sexes are from disadvantaged backgrounds young women are 58% more likely to apply. This is the largest difference on record. In Scotland and Wales, the difference in application rates between young women and young men is also the highest on record, while in NI the difference is the largest recorded since 2009.

Migrant Workers

This year SLC ran a pilot process whereby migrant workers were asked to confirm their ongoing employment prior to the release of each student loan payment. Overall this new process has gone well and the team have had a good response rate from students. The team have also reviewed their process to ensure that university bursary payments can still be made to students in between requests for evidence

Members advised of confusion regarding whether students rejected as migrant workers need to reapply on an EU application or if SLC can use the information they have from their migrant worker application to assess their entitlement to funding as an EU student. SLC require a student ineligible as migrant worker to reapply on an EU form if they are found to have no entitlement to funding as a migrant worker. If a student was eligible as migrant worker for part of the academic year but then stopped working, they wouldn’t need to reapply on an EU form and SLC would reassess the student as EU fees only. Members were also advised that SLC would always inform the student of what they need to do in order to apply for EU funding but agreed to work with members of the Operations Group on guidance for the sector.

Appeals Update

The SLC Appeals Team has been impacted by a number of factors this year meaning that they have been unable to maintain the 20 day Service Level Agreement (SLA) at certain points in the year. At some points last year this was as much as 30 days but is currently just outside the 20 day SLA. SLC understands the impacts which these delays have on students and institutions and is working on measures to mitigate risks of future delays to response times.

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