Student Loans Company made savings by outsourcing their transactional print and mail services

Published 6 April 2022

Last updated 6 April 2022

The requirement

In 2013 Student Loans Company (SLC) started a strategic programme of transformation. SLC started with an evaluation of the in-house facility providing transactional print and mail services, in order to explore outsourcing this function. SLC had never embarked on a business outsourcing on such a scale.

SLC print around 51 million images and produce and mail around 13.5 million packs per year with volumes that rise and fall with the academic intake. There are over 1,000 letter variants with data coming from 10 different systems. The letters are enclosed with one of 90 different envelope variants and 150 different inserts.

The long-term strategy of the project was to realise savings in the cost of staffing, technology and real estate while starting on a second phase transformation programme to simplify and rationalise complex processes.


SLC made the decision to use Lot 2 of our RM3785 Managed Print and Digital Solutions framework. The framework covers managed print products and services, including pre-production services, such as photo-retouching, secure printing, scanning, direct mail, storage and distribution.

Through the framework, Williams Lea proposed a solution delivered from a key operation centre in Livingston, West Lothian, which meant they could offer those getting made redundant the option to be considered for transfer to Williams Lea.

Williams Lea has championed continuous full-colour white paper Jetstream inkjet production for much of the transactional production, this method is very cost-effective and efficient while offering a fit for purpose quality of output.

The commercial proposal was formed to offer a scale of fees depending on the volume transacted through Williams Lea. This allows SLC to manage their future budgeting as they consider moving some communication to digital channels and with the introduction of any new products.

Williams Lea also arranged the sourcing of all raw materials including paper and envelopes. 

 They were able to offer a wide range of associated services available as part of a core print requirement providing a total print solution including Hybrid Mail and digital options.

Williams Lea manages the operational delivery of print requirements including supply chain sourcing and management through a designated Account Management Team based on supplier premises.  


The services successfully went live in November 2014 following three phases of implementation. A flexible unit rate model gives SLC surety of pricing as well as protection if volumes increase or decrease.

The average pack price fell by 19.6% , which led to an estimated total of £1.3million in savings in the first year versus 2013/2014 budgeted total cost of ownership. The associated cost savings came through standardisation, rationalisation and aggregation of demand through Mailmark, Supply Chain Management and File Consolidation.

SLC benefited from this by bringing greater efficiency to the end-to-end process, including:

  • improved forecasting and reporting
  • adopting the most cost efficient method for automatic mail sortation
  • support to rebuild problematic letter templates
  • continual investment in production and infrastructure technologies
  • introduction of MailMark to benefit from reduced downstream mailing charges

This supported the SLC long-term strategy of the project in helping to realise savings in the cost of staffing, technology and real estate.

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