Studying abroad is expensive, especially for international students coming to the UK.
Costs like travel, accommodation, maintenance and course fees mount up and need to be factored in by students, who are often a long way from their support network and potentially more vulnerable if things go wrong. All of this means that universities have a duty of care to ensure that international students can support themselves safely when they’re in the UK.
It’s not just students who are at risk if they get into financial difficulties: this can also have negative consequences for a university and its sponsor licence. It’s imperative that institutions are confident that students have a credible funding plan, can maintain good attendance rates on their course and stay on the right side of labour laws when it comes to undertaking paid work while studying.
Flagging financial fraud
During the development of our platform CAS Shield, we identified that universities were coming across cases of fraud when doing financial checks on some international students.
Some unethical practices were taking place, such as loan sharks exploiting international students by lending money for deposits before demanding repayment as soon as a visa was issued. This posed a real challenge for university compliance teams. How could they be sure that a balance they were checking on a statement was a fair reflection of a students’ ability to support themselves in the UK? Even a genuine statement doesn’t guarantee that money hasn’t been cycled through numerous accounts.
Other examples of counterfeit documents were also coming to light, causing further headaches for administrators struggling to assess applications.
At Enroly, we were determined to find a solution and develop tools to automate financial checks and protect our clients when undertaking their financial due diligence. After consulting with fraud departments in the financial sector, we developed a set of automated forensic accounting tools to handle this work.
Out-of-the-box financial due diligence
Forensic accounting is traditionally a painstakingly manual process, during which checks are taken out to follow a trail to the sources and legitimacy of funds. But it’s time-consuming, and it’s impossible to expect university administrators could carry this work manually for thousands of applications.
Automation is great for valuable yet repetitive tasks like this. Our out-of-the-box financial due diligence tools and automated document checking help our clients do this work as part of the overall CAS, visa and arrival workflow.
How the tech works
The secure Enroly platform is fully configurable by risk region, meaning that the system only requests the financial document that a particular student needs. This ensures that the student experience is completely optimised during the CAS and visa process.
Technology such as optical character recognition is used to do much of the heavy lifting on the checks, giving university staff more time to intervene in complex cases and offer students a much better overall service. A bespoke funding calculator automates all possible financial preparation by combining information such as course fees with other cost-of-living data which adjusts depending on the area of the country in which the student will be living.
Students and universities are secure in the knowledge that financial information and other sensitive documents are stored and accessed securely in the cloud-based application, which is a huge improvement on many existing processes in the sector, which often rely on email and other less-than-secure tools to collect and store this information.
So as well as automating your admin to support teams and convert more students, CAS Shield also stays on top of your financial due diligence too. That means happier students, agents and university teams, who are all working out of a system that’s right on the money.