63% of UK int’l students call tuition payment process “slow and painful”

Conducted in 2019, the survey interviewed 166 international students from China, Indonesia, India, Nigeria and Vietnam currently studying in the UK.

“If the students don’t feel they are getting [a good payment experience], then it really can begin to influence their view of the university”

With 63% of students noting that a “slow and painful” tuition fee payment process would negatively impact their view of the university, the research suggests institutions need to find a broader range of payment options for students that are adapted to payment preferences in their home countries.

These findings are particularly significant as six out of 10 respondents claimed that their experience of paying fees had been problematic.

Common issues included 53% being worried about security, 70% about the ability to track payments and 19% saying they had experienced hidden or unexpected charges such as foreign exchange rate conversions and extra bank fees.

“Sometimes we see universities that might have gone to recruit students from a new country and haven’t considered at all how they’ll make payments. They need to consider that because it’s an overall part of the process,” Simon Read, vice president of education, EMEA at Flywire told The PIE News.

“What really came out within the survey was the feedback that if the students don’t feel they are getting [a good payment experience] then it really can begin to influence their view of the university.”

Four out of five international students want to be able to pay their tuition digitally, including 13% by mobile.

A further 86% expressed a desire to be able to use a payment method popular in their home country, such as Alipay or Wechat for Chinese students, while two thirds would like to pay using their home currency.

Read told The PIE that he believes universities need to also consider that in light of the coronavirus outbreak, digital payments are going to be more necessary than ever, adding that Flywire may look into running the survey again in the future to assess its impact.

“If there were universities right now still insisting on a standard traditional bank transfer for students that are in different countries, potentially they’re asking them to physically go to a bank to make payments in the world where people are in lockdown,” he explained.

“The move to digital really is fairly critical right now because we shouldn’t be asking anybody to leave their homes in countries where they’re not supposed to in order to do physical bank payments.”

The report can be viewed here.

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