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How UniLodge simplified student payments to improve the student experience.

July 26, 2019

UniLodge Australia partnered with Cohort Go to roll out custom-built payments software that will make it easier for students to pay for their accommodation.

UniLodge is the student accommodation provider of choice to major educational institutions across Australia including universities, colleges and TAFEs. With over 70 properties across the country  and a portfolio of 20,000+ beds, UniLodge Financial Manager Scott Nicholas shared how Cohort Go has saved them time and money by integrating payments and reducing manual reconciliations across multiple bank accounts.   

“One of the key pitfalls is the issue of getting the exact payment amount transferred. There are instances where the amounts transferred by the international student is not equal to the amount required to secure accommodation (i.e. net of FX charges),” said Scott Nicholas. 
“It also can be difficult to reconcile who the payment has been received from, as the name on the payment can often be different. For many international students they may have an English name that differs to their name in their mother tongue, which is on their bank account. Or sometimes the payment may be under the name of the student’s parents.”

“The timeliness of the receipt can also be a challenge sometimes,” he said.

With all students now paying via a dedicated Cohort Go payments portal, UniLodge staff can track payments in real-time via a centralised dashboard.  

Seamless integration with their existing finance and student management systems has also eliminated the need for manual reconciliation of thousands of fortnightly student payment records, saving time, and improving data accuracy and status visibility of the payments.

“By using Cohort Go’s platform, we can make sure that the full amount is always receipted, as the AUD amount is not able to be altered through the gateway. The reconciliation field is a mandatory, pre-set item that enables Cohort Go to use our property management system’s API (StarRez), to automatically attribute the payment to the resident,” said Mr Nicholas. 

International students also faced limited and expensive options when it came to paying for accommodation.

By implementing Cohort Go’s simple, co-branded payments platform, students now have access to more convenient payment methods. Students can choose from multiple no-fee options on the platform including local currency transfer, BPAY or credit card with better foreign exchange rates. This results in savings of hundreds of dollars each year on accommodation costs. 

Cohort Go also custom-built direct debit functionality into the payments platform to allow automation of recurring student payments. This has reduced the number of late payments and significantly alleviated the workload on finance staff. 

The UniLodge finance team were frustrated with the time consuming and fragmented management of over 70 bank accounts.

The payments portal was adapted to facilitate the management of over 70 UniLodge bank accounts, one for each of UniLodge’s accommodation sites, while providing a centralised view of their records. 

The finance team are happy to report that the sophisticated payments integration has saved their team days of effort on manual payment reconciliations across multiple accounts.

“Our partnership with Cohort Go has offered our finance team the opportunity to move away from manually reconciling, towards a fully dedicated payments portal. The reconciliation of student payments can now be automated, reducing administration time and enabling our staff to engage in resident-focused activities.” Scott Nicholas, Finance Project Manager, UniLodge.