International Payments | Case Studies

How Kingston University streamlined their international student payment experience and overhauled their marketing communications which helped generate significant savings

Kingston University welcomes thousands of international students each year who need to pay their tuition and accommodation fees in their local currency. In order to meet this diverse student portfolio, Kingston University offered multiple payment options to their students. However, this came with its own challenges where communicating the various options became confusing for students and take up of the most efficient option, WU® GlobalPay for Students, was low. This led to increased student queries, additional costs to the university and an undesirable student experience. Western Union Business Solutions worked with Kingston University to build a two-pronged approach; first by conducting a payment trend analysis and then helping to overhaul their marketing communications. This strategy ultimately helped save the university an estimated £300,000.

Streamlining the international student payment experience.
Streamlining the international student payment experience. Helping generate significant savings.

Multiple payment options resulting in a confusing payment process for students leading to errors

A systems review and a marketing communications overhaul

Savings in efficiency and cost

The Challenge:  Complicated and confusing payment process

Kingston University has over 3,500 overseas students, from more than 140 countries around the world. It is important for the students and the university that tuition and accommodation payments are made quickly and efficiently, with the minimum of fuss.

However, incoming international payments were creating numerous challenges. The university was offering multiple payment options, which meant that take up of the most efficient option, the WU® GlobalPay for Students platform, was low and costs were high. Combined with an inconsistent approach to communications, this meant students were confused, which resulted in high numbers of student enquires and unsolicited direct bank transfers to the university. Often payments were short and poorly referenced, and the finance team had to follow up with students, who might even be unaware of the shortfall on their account.

This led to increased costs for the university and meant that both the finance team and the students were spending valuable time investigating pending payments or resolving queries. The student experience was proving less than positive when payments weren’t received smoothly.

“In response to our shifting priorities, the Western Union Business Solutions account manager and marketing team made the effort to understand our requirements, provided recommendations of ways we could enhance our offering ranging from our marketing of the service to the payment methods we accepted, and then worked with us to implement those changes. As a result, we have seen a remarkable increase in the use of the platform which has significantly enhanced the payer experience and saved us considerable time and resource in the process.”

- Chris Billington, Head of Finance Shared Services, Kingston University

The Solution: A systems review and a marketing communications overhaul

The Western Union Business Solutions Account Management team came up with a two-pronged plan of action. Firstly, they conducted an audit of payment trends, diving into the data to understand the students’ and the university’s evolving requirements and priorities. They then streamlined the payment and collection process, making it easier to choose the most efficient options, and providing additional options such as card payments to meet student needs.

The second part of the plan was around communication. Several communications initiatives were implemented, including updating the website, and providing co-branded marketing collateral targeted at specific audiences. This raised student awareness and directed them to the most efficient payment methods, making the process much more intuitive.

By optimising the existing system and leveraging the resources already in place, the team was able to make a big impact for a minimal investment of resources by the university. A series of quick wins together made quite an impact.

The Results: Savings in time and money, with students able to pay seamlessly and simply

The results have been tangible, and remarkable. The payment process is now automated, making it smooth and intuitive. There has been a 260% uplift in students using the WU GlobalPay for Students platform, which means the university has saved money both on merchant fees and in administration costs. In combination with the time savings for the finance team from the drop in queries, Kingston University estimates the total savings to be around £300,000. They even report that the student enrolment process became smoother because of the positive impact on the international student experience.

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