Independent Assessors of Student Finance Appeals and Complaints

Announced
Body: Student Loans Company
Appointing Department: Department for Education
Sectors: Business, Finance & Skills, Education, Judicial, Prison & Policing, Prison & Policing
Location: UK
Skills required: Legal / Judicial, Regulation
Number of Vacancies: Up to a maximum of 7
Remuneration: A daily rate of £500 per day
Time Requirements: A commitment to complete and report on a minimum of 4 complaints or appeals cases per month, plus attendance at a minimum of three meetings per year.

Announcement

An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

The Secretary of State for Education and ministers in the Welsh government have appointed Susan Bradford, Karimullah Khan, Victoria Louise Smith and Abdul Elghedafi to serve as independent assessors for student finance appeals and complaints for 3 years from 1 September 2021.

They have also reappointed Nahied Asjad, Alison Miller Varey and Joanne Smith for a second term of 3 years from 1 September 2021.

A remuneration rate of £500 per day pro rata will apply for casework undertaken. The number of days casework can be undertaken is capped at 8 per month.

None of the appointees have declared any political activity or conflicts of interest.

Independent assessors provide an independent review of appeals or complaints made to the Student Loans Company (SLC). SLC is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Education.

Date: 09/08/2021

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched

    04/12/2020

  • Closed for Applications

    27/12/2020 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift

    Sift expected to take place W/C 1 March

  • Final Interview Date

    18/05/2021

  • Announcement

    09/08/2021

Provisional sift and interview dates have been rescheduled. Updates will appear as soon as revised dates are known. Revised sift date confirmed as 03 March Revised dates published 12.01.21 Revised interview dates 09-15 April published 17.04.21 Update 19.04.21 - Some interviews have had to be rescheduled - alternative dates are being sought. Update 07.05.21 Interviews will conclude on 18.05.21

 

Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

Background

SLC is a Non-Departmental Public Body, sponsored by the Department for Education. It administers loans and grants to students throughout the United Kingdom, serving over 8 million customers per year and managing a loan book worth more than £130bn. While SLC has robust processes in place, a very small number of SLC customers make complaints about the service they have received or choose to appeal decisions around their eligibility for student finance each year. A smaller subset of those complaints and appeals move through SLC’s internal complaints and appeals handling system and are adjudicated by an independent assessor appointed by the Secretary of State for Education. The Independent Assessors (“IAs”) provide an independent review of appeals or complaints made to SLC and impartially determine whether an error, or service failing, has been made and whether compensation is due to the customer. Review by an IA represents the final stage of the appeals and complaints process. Following the IA review, the complainant or appellant can ask the Ombudsman [Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Public Service Ombudsman for Wales, Public Service Ombudsman for Scotland, NI Public Service Ombudsman] to consider their case or initiate Judicial Review proceedings.

IAs play a vital and expert role in the functioning of the student finance system by ensuring SLC is accountable for the decisions it makes and customers have an independent route of redress in the small number of cases where errors are made. IAs are allocated cases and there is an expectation of timely, accurate and well considered reports which are cognisant of the relevant legislation– in order that they can be shared directly with the customer.

The Secretary of State for Education has currently appointed nine IAs to review complaints and appeals, who work collaboratively to share best practice and knowledge. The IAs are further supported by policy officials and the SLC Sponsor Team in the DfE who, through a quarterly meeting, update the IAs on any changes to legislation or policy direction which may affect decision making. IAs are also supported by a dedicated team at SLC, who ensure access is provided to relevant customer information, transcripts, and audio recordings.

 

Vacancy Description

The main responsibilities and duties of an Independent Assessor will be to:

  • consider appeals from Student Finance customers against decisions made by the SLC relating to eligibility or entitlement to financial support;
  • consider complaints regarding the standard of service received, where they have not been resolved through the SLC’s internal review process;
  • conduct formal investigations (including call-listening, a formal written review of the evidence presented, interpreting relevant legislation, seeking further written evidence where necessary);
  • keep up to date with new legislation; and
  • provide written reports to customers and the SLC following assessment of individual appeals and complaints cases within appropriate guidelines and timescales.

 

Person Specification

Essential criteria:

The successful candidates will have:

  •  a legal qualification (Law degree or equivalent practising certificate) and relevant legal experience and/or have relevant experience from working in a legal, judicial, or quasi-judicial environment;
  • an understanding of the skills, tools and techniques used in complaint handling;
  • the ability to interpret and apply statutory criteria and legislation to a decision-making process; and
  • the ability to produce well written, accurate and concise reports within set timescales.

 

Desirable criteria:

  • Awareness of relevant Higher and Further Education Law applicable in England and Wales – particularly the Student Support Regulations; and
  • Experience or involvement with investigating appeals or complaints between an individual and a public sector organisation.

 

 

How to Apply

The closing date for applications is 27th December at midday.

Please submit the following documents by email to: PublicAppointments.APPLICATIONS@education.gov.uk

  • A covering letter not exceeding one side of A4 paper. (Arial size 12).
  • A CV.
  • Candidate application form.
  • Diversity form.

 

Please include the vacancy title in the subject box and submit each application document as a separate attachment.

We are happy to accept applications in alternative formats from applicants who, for reasons of disability, may find it difficult to fill in our standard form. If you wish to have a chat with us about reasonable adjustments please contact us at: PublicAppointments.APPLICATIONS@education.gov.uk

Please note the following:

  • If a large volume of applications are received a pre sift will be conducted against the lead criteria (a legal qualification (Law degree or equivalent practising certificate) and relevant legal experience and/or have relevant experience from working in a legal, judicial, or quasi-judicial environment);
  • we cannot accept applications submitted after the closing date;
  • applications will be assessed solely on the documentation provided; please refer to the advert and checklist above to ensure you have provided everything requested;
  • applications will be acknowledged upon receipt;
  • we cannot provide feedback at application stage; feedback will only be given to candidates unsuccessful following interview;
  • If successful at sift due diligence checks will be undertaken prior to interview.

“Please note, if you are an SLC customer and have queries relating to a complaint that you wish to refer to an Independent Assessor, please contact SLC via email (customer_complaints@slc.co.uk) or telephone (0300 100 0601) to request escalation to an Independent Assessor”.

Attachments
Candidate-Application-Form
Diversity_Monitoring_Form
Public-Appointments-Privacy-Notice
Candidate Pack - IAs
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