Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions Spend 83 Business Days Reconciling International Student Payments Annually

Press Release By Western Union Published OnJuly 31, 2017
  • Survey of admission and finance staff at Canadian post-secondary institutions reveals international tuition payments made by credit card incur an average transaction fee of 1.43 percent
  • With over 218,000 international students in Canada, post-secondary institutions could spend over $65 million a year in transaction fees*
  • Almost a quarter of respondents indicated that their institutions are not fully prepared to manage international student payments


TORONTO, ON – July 31, 2017 – Canadian post-secondary institutions could be losing over $65 million in transaction fees every year when receiving and processing tuition payments from international students*, according to new research from Western Union, a leader in global money transfer and payments services.

In addition to the monetary costs, the survey found that an average of over 12 hours a week are lost to matching, processing and reconciling payments from international students – the equivalent of a little over 83 working days each year.

Western Union’s research, which surveyed 100 finance and admissions staff at post-secondary institutions across Canada, discovered that nearly a third (31 percent) of respondents found the charges incurred from payments were one the biggest challenges their institution faced when processing international tuition fees. Additionally, almost half (49 percent) of those surveyed said students’ inability to use the institution’s accepted payment methods in their own country was one of their biggest challenges, and over a third (35 percent) cited the human resource and time requirements to process international payments.

Data from the Canadian Bureau for International Education for 2015 shows that there was a 92-percent increase in international students in Canada since 2008 and approximately 218,000 international students enrolled in Canadian post-secondary institutions.

With a growing number of international students choosing Canada for their education, post-secondary institutions are set to face more costly transaction charges, as well as an increase in administrative burden. However, almost one quarter (23 percent) of those surveyed do not feel their institutions are fully prepared to accept payments from international students. Furthermore, despite the growing popularity of e-wallets and alternative payment methods, only one fifth of respondents (20 percent) cited that their institutions offer these options to students – demonstrating a distinct lack of adoption within the industry.

“Managing payments from international students can be a complex and time-consuming process for Canadian universities,” said Western Union’s President of Global Payments Jean Claude Farah. “This new research shows the real challenge faced by universities and colleges. In addition to the charges they may incur, many also lose valuable staff time matching and processing payments made by a variety of methods depending on the student’s country of origin.

“With funding and resources an ongoing concern for universities across Canada, international students are becoming a more significant income stream, having access to an efficient and cost-effective process to accept payments from around the globe has never been more important,” Farah said.

Western Union recently launched its enhanced GlobalPay for Students platform, which has been developed to improve the way universities reconcile, refund and track payments from international students, allowing clients to receive payments from multiple platforms and view all payment activity on one dashboard. The platform is designed to help universities simplify the reconciliation of incoming international payments, which can be a complex and time-consuming process. The mobile-first interface has also been developed with student input to improve the user experience. 


Notes to editors

  • *Based on survey data indicating an average transaction fee of 1.43 percent on international student payments made by credit card. Calculations based on a 1.43 percent average transaction fee, average tuition fees of $21,932 (as per Statistics Canada figures for 2015/2016) and 218,000 international students in post-secondary institutions (as per figures from the Canadian Bureau for International Education from 2015).
  • All figures in Canadian Dollars unless otherwise indicated
  • The study was conducted by OnePoll between June 9-22, 2017 and polled Canada adults with finance and admissions responsibilities in universities/higher education institutions. Participants were recruited online and were paid to participate.


About Western Union
The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of March 31, 2017, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of over 550,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories and over 150,000 ATMs and kiosks, and included the capability to send money to billions of accounts. In 2016, The Western Union Company completed 268 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $80 billion of principal between consumers, and 523 million business payments. For more information, visit

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