Western Union has announced a new option to make it easier for Indian students studying overseas to pay their college tuition. The company is partnering with colleges and universities around North America to allow the schools to accept tuition payments in Indian rupees.
By reaching an agreement with India’s ICICI Bank, Western Union will be able to aid in processing foreign tuition and fee invoices through students’ foreign bank accounts. Currently, the service is limited to colleges and universities in the USA and Canada, but the company plans to add other markets in the near future.
“This service will allow for the fast and reliable delivery of funds to universities, along with streamlined reconciliation and full student reference information,” said Raj Agrawal, President, Western Union Business Solutions. “We have a strong track record working with higher-education clients to ease the processing of cross-border payments.”
Peter Tom, who is the Director of the Cashier’s Office at the University of Southern California, one of the participating schools, said that the service will substantially reduce the expense and effort associated with collecting tuition payments from students who are foreign nationals. The money saved by the reduction in administrative costs can be passed on to the students, especially by waiving the fee the school normally charges to accept Western Union wire transfers from abroad. Tom added the new service was a welcome change for school administrators, and he hoped that it will be as enthusiastically embraced by the students.
Nearly 14% of all international students in the U.S. are from India according to the International Education’s Open Doors report; during the 2010-11 academic year, over 100,000 students from India were enrolled in American colleges and universities. And in Canada, the number of international students who are originally from India is growing rapidly. The number of student visas granted to Indian students by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada office tripled between 2008 and 2010, making the new service particularly timely.
Western Union Business Solutions works with global technology experts, including Higher One, to fuse its core foreign-exchange expertise and global reach with the knowledge of software developers who specialize in the education sector. The service for student tuition and fees such as meal plans and residence halls is fully integrated into the university’s website. Students register their names, their student identifications and the amount they wish to pay. Western Union Business Solutions displays a price in Indian rupees, with the exchange rate locked in. The student prints out the form and processes the payment through a participating ICICI bank location within 3 days.