What were the challenges for Exeter College?

Exeter College is a large, thriving tertiary college which places teaching, learning and student success as a top priority. The College provides further and higher education courses for over 11,000 full and part-time students across seven sites, mainly situated in the city centre but with one site located 50 miles away.

The College was judged as outstanding by Ofsted in a ‘no notice’ inspection in 2012, and again in a full inspection in 2014. They were awarded the Times’ Educational Supplement 2012 ‘Outstanding Provider of the Year’ and ‘BTEC College of the Year’ in 2014.

 

Background

Exeter College is a large, thriving tertiary college which places teaching, learning and student success as a top priority. The College provides further and higher education courses for over 11,000 full and part-time students across seven sites, mainly situated in the city centre but with one site located 50 miles away.

The College was judged as outstanding by Ofsted in a ‘no notice’ inspection in 2012, and again in a full inspection in 2014. They were awarded the Times’ Educational Supplement 2012 ‘Outstanding Provider of the Year’ and ‘BTEC College of the Year’ in 2014.

Why Wisepay?

In a drive to further improve the customer experience, Exeter College wanted to implement one single, easy to use platform that was both mobile and accessible, 24/7.  They approached several suppliers, including WisePay, a leading software provider of PCI-compliant income management, booking, communication and analysis services. WisePay’s services are targeted for the education sector and are designed to streamline accounting processes, provide powerful finance and management information and to free up staff time to better serve students.

Exeter College ultimately chose WisePay above the competition because their integrated software platform and flexible, bespoke solutions met the College’s specific needs.

Planning & Design

The initial meetings were a collaborative effort. The Finance team met with WisePay and outlined their objectives, development plans and budget.  Within six months, all initial income streams were online and the remainder followed in line with the roadmap, timeframes and budget that had been agreed. The solution successfully went live in 2014.

A ‘Wise-Account’ for every student is synchronised automatically with Exeter College’s student database.  When students want to pay for college activities, they access the College’s own WisePay Portal, via the College Portal, using their student college ICT account.

Wise-Accounts are flexible so that either a student or guardian can access it, depending who takes control of the account.  There are complete security controls around the account and payer is protected so that nobody can see bank or card details.

Transport and Travel Application Process Managed Online

Exeter College’s subsidised travel scheme involves up to 2,500 students renewing bus and rail passes three times a year, which equates to 7,500 transactions annually. The old process typically required several phone calls per transaction and significant amounts of resource. It was all processed manually, with passport photos paper-clipped to forms.

WisePay and Exeter College have deployed a solution whereby the whole application process is fully integrated online. Students can log on to WisePay, select their chosen travel pass and upload a photo to the College. The College then extracts the data from WisePay and manipulates it before the College produces the photo and sends the travel order electronically to the travel company.

Rather than just bolting on an online payment system for the travel scheme, Exeter College and WisePay have collaboratively designed a more intelligent and efficient business solution. It is highly bespoke, with a seamless front-end user interface which has been a huge success for all concerned.

Students can choose to pay either annually or termly and staff are able to utilise the free alerts for reminders and promotions, thanks to the WisePay’s integrated communication platform.

Reducing Staff Time Spent on Administration Processes

Cash or cheques used to be collected by individual faculties from students and parents wishing to book and pay for the numerous educational visits, resources and materials. This occupied a significant amount of staff time and effort.

Now Exeter College use WisePay for educational visits and the purchasing of course materials, such as art supplies.   148 individual educational visits have run through WisePay, amounting to over 3,000 transactions on educational visits alone.

All elements of the portal will soon be customised and segmented even further so that users have more specifically targeted information and access.

Bursary Payments

The Bursary Department can assign money to bursary students who may be suffering financial hardship and struggling with the costs of coming to college.  Bursary students are entitled to free school meals and their accounts can be loaded with money via WisePay’s services.

The benefit is that the Bursary Department no longer has to send an email to the Finance Department letting them know, for example, that they have spent £15 on art supplies or £3 on a meal for a particular bursary student. The Finance staff can simply download the Bursary analysis report once a week and the allowance is clearly audited for easier reconciliation, making it far less labour-intensive.

Extending Services to External Students - Haven Banks Education Centre

A particular requirement for Exeter College was the need for a separate income management and booking system for their Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre.

Haven Banks Education Centre is an innovative outdoor activity centre managed by Exeter College and partnered with Devon County Council.  WisePay set up a separate and bespoke portal for Haven Banks so that it was open to the general public for both individual and family activity bookings and the hiring of equipment, such as wet suits, with bookings.

The Haven Banks Portal has led to a more streamlined approach and is facilitating the College to move further towards a cashless environment.

Positive feedback

Students can now access information online and on the move at any time to suit them. By streamlining payment processes and maximising bookings and revenues through a single, easy to use platform which can be accessed from anywhere, any time, Exeter College can now meet their students’ expectations.

All online services for students and parents are now significantly quicker, while the freeing up of staff means that more time can be spent further improving the student experience. In terms of support, the working relationship between WisePay and Exeter College has been maintained to a high standard. Frequent, in-depth conversations with WisePay ensure that their wide-ranging software services are continually meeting the College’s needs.

Moving towards a cashless environment

Online services at Exeter College have dramatically helped modernise their business processes.  The Finance Department has been freed up to deal with other matters of concern to the students.  Overall, the introduction of WisePay’s bespoke software platform has been an extremely positive experience.

Future plans

Exeter College also offers non-funded, commercial Adult Education courses, which would benefit from an online booking and management process.  They are also looking into allowing parents/pupils to pay tuition fees online.

Services which made the difference

School Travel Management
Bus & travel payments
Easily and efficiently manage all bus and travel payments in one place! Whatever functionality your organisation requires, such as, bus, rail or taxi travel, WisePay has a service which will be able to meet your requirements!
Ticketing For Your School Events
Tickets & events booking
This service allows customers to pay for tickets for events where having a seat number is not a requirement (EventWise by WisePay is the service used for seat bookings).

Over 20 Years Experience

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