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Student Loans Company earmarks £200m for digital transformation programme

The Student Loans Company (SLC) has unveiled plans to spend hundreds of millions of pounds transforming its customer interface and the technology estate that powers it.

SLC revealed on Wednesday it would be awarding £200m to its first strategic tech partner towards the end of the year, and that it has further IT procurement exercises in the works.

Stephen Campbell, the government-owned company’s CIO, said the initial partnership represents 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”.

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

The plans come after a government review published last July shed light on the organisation’s “overwhelmed and outdated” digital infrastructure. The review’s authors identified a “historic underdevelopment of the SLC’s core IT” and revealed the organisation had been forced to prioritise the delivery of new policies over core system upgrades.

“[This] has led to the evolution of functions with multiple independencies that complicate the process of developing new products and services,” the report stated. “This is further constrained by the SLC’s scale, which is comparable to that of a medium sized bank with an IT system that has over 400 interaction points with other systems.”

The report noted that SLC acknowledged its service did “not always meet the expectations of its digitally-enabled customer base”.

In Wednesday’s announcement, SLC said the first procurement would be carried out via Lot 4a of the Crown Commercial Service’s Technology Service 2 Framework Agreement and that a supplier would be named in the third quarter of 2020-21 financial year.

SLC’s chief executive, Paula Sussex, said: “Our new technology strategy, and proposed approach to building strategic technology partnerships, is critical to modernising our operational capability.”