International (Global) Strategies | Case Studies

How the University of Westminster automated their student payment reconciliation process by opting for an integrated solution

The University of Westminster had a lengthy process for reconciling incoming tuition payments and processing refunds, and they were concerned that this exposed them to fraud. To help resolve this, Western Union Business Solutions was able to integrate the WU® GlobalPay for Students solution into the University of Westminster’s existing software. As a result, this has helped the institution process over £10m of transactions since the launch.

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Complex manual processes

Integrated payments platform

Reduced manual process and better student experience

The Challenge: Complex manual processes 

The University of Westminster launched 180 years ago and has grown providing undergraduate, postgraduate and professional courses to 19,000 students from over 169 nationalities. With such an internationally diverse student population, Westminster must provide a payment solution that offers multiple transaction methods, global coverage and currency access.

Previously, staff had to manually upload 85% of student bank transfers into a financial accounting system with limited information, which made reconciliation complex and time-consuming. According to Paul Jay, Head of Financial Operations, University of Westminster, these weren’t the only challenges. “The manual process also raised concerns about our exposure to fraud, and our complicated refund process involved several internal approvals before being released and manually distributing funds to the right person.

“We also had difficulties with card payments where merchant fees often meant payments arrived short, and we had to chase up students or write off as an expense. Unfortunately, sometimes we would incorrectly chase students for payment which impacted our customer service.”

The University needed to reduce manual transactions and simplify processes to free up time for the credit control, treasury and finance teams. In addition, it required a solution that offered rigorous compliance procedures to help reduce the risk of fraud.

“We have made substantial savings on merchant service fees and we now receive the full amount from the students which means no more chasing up short payments.”

-- Paul Jay, Head of Financial Operations, University of Westminster

The Solution: Integrated payments platform

To increase process efficiencies, the University has integrated Western Union Business Solutions WU® GlobalPay for Students platform into its existing software. This means that student payment and reconciliation is now an automated process where students can easily initiate a payment online via a Westminster portal, and the University receives payment in full with all the relevant information needed for reconciliation.

Through WU GlobalPay for Students, students can make a payment by bank transfer, credit card or via various e-Wallet options in their local currency, so they know in advance exactly how much the transaction will cost.

As part of the Western Union Business Solutions network, all payments via the WU GlobalPay for Students platform are compliance checked to help reduce the risk of fraudulent transactions.

The Results: Reduced manual process and better student experience

Since launching the platform the University of Westminster has processed over £10m of transactions through WU GlobalPay for Students. All incoming student payments are now automatically uploaded and reconciled, which requires less manual intervention from internal teams.

“We have experienced a huge reduction in manual transactions and processing from the solution,” Paul explained. “We can now refund students online with the click of a button and be confident it’s going to the right person. We have also made substantial savings on merchant service fees and we now receive the full amount from the students which means no more chasing up short payments.

“The support provided by Western Union Business Solutions has been very efficient – it only took six weeks to go live. It feels more like a partnership. The team actively follows us up, and the day before launch we received comprehensive set off instructions and support notes.

The quick implementation was critical to the University of Westminster so they could accept tuition deposit payments via the integrated solution that same academic year and experience increased efficiencies and savings. The University of Westminster is now looking to expand the integration to their student accommodation payments which is a testament to the relationship and success of the integration.

Western Union Business Solutions is a trusted partner for incoming and outgoing international payments and foreign exchange. Speak to an Education specialist today to find out how we can help your institution make considerable cost and time savings.

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Disclaimer: This example is for illustrative purposes only. Your results may vary.