Universities that use fintech to deliver a digital-first tuition payment experience are set to attract more international students
Flywire, a high-growth vertical payments company, has today announced a new research report that reveals 67% of international students are concerned if they can’t use their tuition payment method of choice at UK universities. The interactive report, Discover Ways to Attract More Overseas Students: A Payment Study for UK Universities, is based on a survey of international students from China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Vietnam at UK universities, and uncovers a correlation between the recruitment and retention of students and a positive tuition payment experience.
Universities are actively looking to attract more overseas talent to unlock new revenue streams and improve competitiveness. To effectively do this, institutions are under pressure to digitise the student experience across all facets of university life. A big part of the student journey is paying tuition fees, and universities need to ensure their payment systems deliver an optimal experience.
“Now, more than ever, the Government and individual universities must do all that we can to attract and welcome international students to the UK,” said Abi Shearsmith, Head of Finance & Programme Business Lead at University of Leeds. “For many students their choice of university will go beyond the academic offering and include other areas they place value on, including support and administration services. For most international students the payer experience begins long before they set foot on our university campus, so it’s vital that we provide a secure and easily navigated payment service.”
“Given the level of tuition fees being charged across the sector, students often expect to be treated as “customers” in certain aspects of their university journey; paying fees is one of these areas, where an overly complex and lengthy process does not reflect the high level of experience expected for our students.”
Key findings from the report include:
- The payments experience influences how a university is perceived: 81% of international students are concerned if their tuition payment isn’t embedded within a university’s website, with 69% now paying tuition via laptop, phone or tablet. Furthermore, students expect the tuition process to be smooth throughout with 67% of students holding a negative view of a university after a poor payments experience. In turn, 49% may advise peers against attending the school after said poor experience.
- Students are concerned about security and transparency: 53% were concerned about the security of tuition payments. In fact, security was cited as the most important feature when making a payment by respondents. Transparency also ranked highly with over 70% of students expressing concern over their inability to track payment status in real-time. Worryingly, nearly one in five (19%) students confirmed they have been the subject of “hidden charges” when making a payment.
- Payment preferences matter: 86% of students want to use a preferred payment method for tuition payments, and that preferred method varies greatly depending on home market. and 66% would like to pay in their home currency when making a payment. It’s clear that students expect a seamless payment experience, regardless of currency or payment method preferences.
“If universities want to attract more international students, then they must take action and work with fintech partners to improve the payment process,” said Sharon Butler, Executive Vice President, Global Education at Flywire. “Universities need to ensure the whole payment journey is as smooth as possible. That means being digital-first and ideally embedded within the university’s website. This can all be accomplished by using the right payment partners. Nevertheless, it is essential to provide a seamless payment journey as it helps to build a positive brand image amongst international student audiences.”
Flywire’s interactive report Discover Ways to Attract More Overseas Students: A Payment Study for UK Universities is available: here.