A service we provide to students is offering as many options as possible for them to pay their tuition fees. This is relatively easy for domestic students because they can pay by cheque or bank transfer or debit or whatever.
It is a little more tricky for international students. They can pay by international bank wire but these are not exactly easy to do and many students from developing countries don’t trust their banks. They can pay in cash, but showing up to our service desk with $10,000 in twenty dollar bills isn’t recommended and declaring that cash at the border is, well, expecting a lot. Providing refunds through international banks is also really challenging. Approximately 33% of our student body is international, so this is a significant service issue.
Paying by credit card is so much easier (and points! Ka-ching!), but try to find a Canadian university that accepts payment by credit card – there are very few! The reason my university does not accept direct payment by credit card is the high fees charged by our payment processor – up to 4% on some cards. Let’s do the math. 4% of $10,000 is… [clickety click goes the calculator]… a lot of money.
I am glad to say that we have found a good payment option for international students. Flywire, (which used to be PeerTransfer) offers an excellent service to students – with a clear pricing structure – that is free to TWU and good value for students. The reports and downloads we get from Flywire are excellent. They have partnered with over 900 educational institutions, and receive good reviews in general. In fact, this is my best experience working with any vendor. They understand our students, they “get” our university model, are patient with our slow machinations, have a good sense of humour and seem to be decent human beings.
It is very nice to find a vendor we are confident will offer a much needed service to our students. And as a result, the Registrar’s Office can serve international student much better.
One of the benefits of being an active member of the society of Registrars (yes we do have a secret handshake) is that there are colleagues at other institutions who can make vendor recommendations. Several years ago as we were looking for vendors, I asked for some recommendations at a BC Registrars Association meeting. I received some very negative feedback from other Registrars about some vendors. I heard things like, “We don’t use them because they are not good people.” Some said, “We considered (Vendor XYZ) but we don’t like their strong-arm tactics and we don’t think they are ethical in their business practices.”
Gulp! I’m glad I asked! Apparently the quality of service providers varies widely. Give the folks at Flywire a chance.
Kudos to the BC Registrars Association members for being open and willing to share. You make us all better!