UK to boost ranks of international students. Is your school ready?

The UK government has set ambitious targets for drawing international students to the country’s university campuses – increasing the total to as many as 600,000 students by 2030. That means your school is competing with hundreds of other institutions for overseas enrollees. Are you ready to attract the next wave of incoming students?

To remain viable in today’s competitive education market, universities should view their students as “customers” who want a great experience. This is no easy task, and it’s made more complex by the pressure on schools to appeal to students in markets beyond China, especially in light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

What are international students looking for? According to the QS 2019 International Student Survey, five factors top the list:

  • High-quality teaching
  • Scholarships
  • A welcoming environment
  • Specific courses a student is interested in
  • Good reputation in a student’s chosen subject area

While a “welcoming environment” can involve many aspects of your university, one that may get overlooked is the experience students have when they go to pay your school. The fact is, paying tuition fees is a significant part of the student journey. If universities want to attract more international students, they need to take action to improve the payment process – digitally – for one of life’s most important moments.

UK to boost ranks of international students. Is your school ready?

According to Abi Shearsmith, Head of Student Finance & Programme Business Lead at the University of Leeds, “Now, more than ever, the Government and individual universities must do all that we can to attract and welcome international students to the UK. 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.”

Insights into international student expectations

Flywire recently commissioned independent research to understand what international students from China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Vietnam at UK universities expect from their tuition payment experience. These markets were selected based on the current or future prominence of their student populations at UK schools. Key findings included:

  • 81% would be concerned if they couldn’t pay tuition via the university website
  • 69% pay tuition electronically via computer, mobile device or tablet
  • 63% said a slow and painful payment process paints a negative picture of a university
  • 71% expressed concern over the inability to track payment status in real time
  • Two-thirds of respondents are concerned about hidden fees during the tuition payment process

The implications are clear. In order to attract international students, your school must deliver a seamless digital payment experience across all devices; it is essential for the payment experience to be speedy and secure; and because tuition payments are high-value, emotionally charged student experiences, your school must communicate the status of payments in real time and offer full visibility throughout the payment process.

The good news is that the tools and expertise to create a compelling online tuition payment experience – from local payment methods to around-the-clock multilingual support and real-time tracking – are available and already helping institutions to differentiate and attract international students.

Review the survey’s complete findings

Additional insights from the survey include student security concerns when payment processes are cumbersome and variances from country to country on preferred payment methods.

Flywire has been solving complex payment problems for students and education institutions since 2011. Today, we continue to remove boundaries by connecting millions of students with more than 2,000 institutions to improve the payment experience worldwide.

Take an interactive look at our payment study to find out more about the payment expectations of international students in the UK.