ABERTAY UNIVERSITY DEBT MANAGEMENT POLICY: STUDENTS

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1 ABERTAY UNIVERSITY DEBT MANAGEMENT POLICY: STUDENTS 1. INTRODUCTION This document sets out the policy of the University in relation to student debt, together with the debt management procedures followed in furtherance of this policy. The University s policy is to minimise levels of debt, and of bad debts, in order to protect the overall financial health of the University and to allow it to continue to invest in excellence in teaching and research. The policy relates to all fees and charges payable to the University by all current and former students for tuition, accommodation, library services and other miscellaneous services. The Head of Finance is responsible for managing and reviewing this policy; Finance staff are responsible for the effective operation of debt management procedures; all University staff are expected to be familiar with this policy and to contribute to its effective implementation. 2. SUPPORT TO STUDENTS In applying the policy, the University will at all times seek to be sympathetic to, and understanding of, individual students financial circumstances. However, for the University to do so, students must communicate with the University if they are experiencing difficulties. Action to enforce settlement of debt for outstanding fees and charges will be taken against all current and former students who have failed to engage with the University to find a solution to resolve any outstanding debt, or who have failed to adhere to agreed payment plans. Students experiencing difficulties in paying any fees and charges should seek help at the earliest opportunity by: making contact with Finance Finance can be contacted either by ing telephoning or , or by booking an appointment to speak directly to a member of Finance staff, via the Student Enquiry Zone. making contact with the Residences Office The Residences Office can be contacted either by ing telephoning or booking an appointment to speak directly to a member of the residences team, via the Student Enquiry Zone. seeking advice from Student Services Student Services can also provide information on a number of finance-related issues. Advisory staff can be contacted either by ing or by telephoning

2 3. FEES This section provides details of tuition and accommodation fees, together with payment options. 3.1 Tuition fees Many students receive full or partial support for their fees, either from a grantawarding body such as SAAS, or from an employer or other sponsoring agency. Students will be asked to provide proof of this support, together with full contact details for the sponsor, to University staff when they register for the new session. Where a student has confirmed that they will be funded by a sponsor, then the University will request payment from the sponsor. It is the student s responsibility to inform the Finance Office of any changes to their funding which may be relevant. Certain sponsors, such as the sponsors detailed in Appendix 2, are exempt from the payment options listed below. Where a sponsor fails to make payment of the student s fees by the deadline, then the fee liability will become the responsibility of the student. The fee will be transferred from the sponsor s account to the student s account and the standard debt chasing procedures, as outlined in section 4 below, will be followed. If a student receives no support, or only partial support, they will be required to make arrangements for paying their fees. Although fees become due on the date of registration, the University makes various instalment options available to students to enable them to spread the cost over a number of months (Appendix 1 applies). If a student decides to pay their tuition fees by direct debit and then defaults in payment, the University reserves the right to levy a late payment admin charge of 20 plus VAT for the second and all subsequent defaults. If a student defaults more than 3 times in the academic year, then the remaining balance will become payable in full. 3.2 Residences: Rent The University provides a range of accommodation for its students. Where an application is approved, students are required to sign/accept a lease, usually for an academic year, and are required to pay a prepayment of rent as part of the acceptance process. Students may pay for their rent using one of the following payment plans:- In full within 14 days of receiving their accommodation offer (2% discount applies) N.B. this is dependent on terms of the residences lease also being accepted during the same 14 day period In full on arrival a pre-payment within 14 days of receiving their accommodation offer and the balance prior to key collection (nil discount). In nine or twelve monthly instalments (twelve instalments only possible if the student has accepted a 51 week lease). 2

3 In 3 instalments a prepayment within 14 days of receiving their accommodation offer, with the balance paid in 2 instalments due 9 th October and 9 th January. Payments can be made either by Monthly direct debit; Online payment via OASIS; Bank transfer; Credit/debit card at the Student Enquiry Zone; or By using a debit or credit card on the University s online store at Residences: Non-rent charges The University will invoice students throughout the academic year on an ad-hoc basis, as and when charges become due. Students are required to pay these invoices within 14 days from the date of the invoice. Payments can be made either by Online payment via OASIS; Bank transfer; Credit/debit card at the Student Enquiry Zone; or By using a debit or credit card on the University s online store at 4. DEBT MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES If any student falls into arrears with any fees or charges, the University will take the following steps to recover the debt. 4.1 Tuition fees Day -14 (before due date) Finance staff will issue an to remind the student of their due payment. (For self- funding students not paying by direct debit) Day 5 (after due date) Finance staff will issue an asking the student to pay the arrears within 7 days or to contact Finance to discuss arrears. This may result in the arrears being cleared or an agreement may be made to reschedule the remaining amounts due. Day 12 (after due date) If there is no response to the , Finance will disable the Student s IT facilities and access to Library will be suspended. These facilities will only be reinstated once the arrears have been cleared in full or an agreement has been reached to reschedule the remaining amounts due. Day 28 (after due date) 3

4 If the Library and IT facilities are disabled for a period of 2 weeks, Finance will issue a request to the student that they attend a meeting with the University s Credit Controller to discuss the arrears on their account. Day 30 (after due date) If there has been no response from the student to attend a meeting, Finance staff will try to make contact with the student by telephone to resolve the debt issues. Day 35 (after due date) If the student fails to respond, Finance will issue a letter informing the student that they will be withdrawn from their studies unless the outstanding debt is cleared in full. Day 42 (after due date) Procedure for withdrawal from the University will be initiated if the debt is still not cleared in full. Schools will be notified of these actions. Overseas students should also be aware that their VISA may be revoked and that they may have to leave the UK. The University reserves the right to levy a late payment admin charge of 20 plus VAT to any persistent defaulters and/or request the outstanding balance to be paid immediately in full. Finance staff will issue statements detailing outstanding overdue balances to both student s home and contact addresses at Christmas and Easter as well as at the end of the academic session. 4.2 Residences: Rent charges Day -14 (before due date) Residences staff will those students not paying by direct debit, reminding them that their instalment is due on 9th of the coming month. Day 2 (before due date) As various sponsors make a payment to the student around this time, Residences staff will send a further to those students not paying by direct debit, reminding them that their instalment is due on the 9 th of that month. Day 1 (after due date) Residences staff will issue an to students advising them to contact the Residences Office to discuss the arrears and confirm when payment will be made. Day 5 (after due date) Residences staff will send a further advising the student of their arrears and to contact the Residences Office to discuss payment. Failure to make payment at this stage may result in the application of an administration charge of 20 being levied. Day 11 (after due date) 4

5 Residences staff will issue an to those students who have not paid advising them to do so and also reminding them of the late payment admin charge or to contact the Residences Office to discuss. Day 14 (after due date) Residences staff will issue an to those students who have not paid advising them to do so by a specific time on day 15 after the due date or a late payment fee will be charged to their account. The student is also reminded that they can come to the Residences Office to discuss. Day 16 (after due date) A member of Residences staff will visit the student at their residence to discuss the outstanding debt and investigate the reason for non-payment and, where appropriate, obtain payment. A late payment admin charge of 20 may also be applied to the account. Various dates depending on circumstances A 40 day notice to quit will be issued if the Residences Office staff have continued problems with students in arrears of 2 or more months and who continually fail to keep to agreed rent payment schedules or who refuse to discuss the relevant rent arrears. Having gone through the full process outlined above to recover accommodation debt from relevant students, and payment not having been made to Finance, the Commercial Services Manager will refer any students with an outstanding debt to the Credit Controller at the same time as issuing the Notice to Quit. Day 1 (after issue of the Notice to Quit) Finance will issue a request to the student that they attend a meeting with the University s Credit Controller to discuss the arrears on their account. Day 8 (after issue of the Notice to Quit) If there has been no response from the student to attend a meeting, Finance staff will try to make contact with the student by telephone to resolve the debt issues. Day 15 (after issue of the Notice to Quit) If the student fails to respond, Finance will refer the debt to one of the University s debt collection agencies, regardless of whether the student is a current student, which may result in court action being raised to recover the debt. NB. The Commercial Services Manager will meet with the University s Credit Controller on a regular basis (typically monthly during term time) to discuss students with particular finance issues and /or high levels of debt with a view to providing extra support to the relevant students whilst minimising debt levels with the University where possible. 4.3 Residences: Non-rent charges Day 14 (before due date) An invoice will be raised electronically and sent to the student by both and an in-tray message in OASIS advising them that they have a non-rent charge which is due to be paid within the next 14 days. Possible methods of 5

6 payment will be highlighted along with a statement reminding the student that they should contact the residences Office if they would like to discuss any issues with the charge. Day 1 (after due date) A reminder will be raised electronically and sent to the student by both and an in-tray message in OASIS reminding the student of the charge, whilst highlighting that this charge is overdue and should be paid within the next 7 days. Relevant payments methods and contact details will also be included. Day 22 (after due date) A final reminder will be raised electronically and sent to the student by both and an in-tray message in OASIS reminding the student of the charge, whilst highlighting that this charge continues to be overdue and should be paid within the next 7 days, otherwise formal action will be taken. Failure to make payment at this stage may result in the application of an administration charge of 20 being levied, with additional administration charges of 20 being levied on a monthly basis until the debt is cleared. Having gone through the full process outlined above to recover accommodation debt from relevant students, and payment not having been made to Finance, the Commercial Services Manager will refer any students with an outstanding debt to the Credit Controller at the same time as issuing the Notice to Quit. Day 1 (after issue of the Notice to Quit) Finance will issue a request to the student that they attend a meeting with the University s Credit Controller to discuss the arrears on their account. Day 8 (after issue of the Notice to Quit) If there has been no response from the student to attend a meeting, Finance staff will try to make contact with the student by telephone to resolve the debt issues. Day 15 (after issue of the Notice to Quit) If the student fails to respond, Finance will refer the debt to one of the University s debt collection agencies, regardless of whether the student is a current student, which may result in court action being raised to recover the debt. NB. The Commercial Services Manager will meet with the University s Credit Controller on a regular basis (typically monthly during term time) to discuss students with particular finance issues and /or high levels of debt with a view to providing extra support to the relevant students whilst minimising debt levels with The University where possible. 4.4 Library Services The University Library has a comprehensive debt chasing system in place which will result in suspension of facilities and, in the case of former students, will result in the debt being referred to one of the University s debt collections agencies which may result in court action being raised against the student. Library overdue charges 6

7 Overdue charges are imposed at the same rate for all users: staff, students, external users, alumni etc. 28-day loan: 10p per item per day (Mon Fri). Maximum fine per item per loan period: 5.00* Recalled 28-day loan: 50p per item per day (Mon Fri), charged from the revised due date. Maximum fine per item per loan period: 5.00.* 7-day loan: 50p per item per day (Mon Fri). Maximum fine per item per loan period: 5.00* 1-day DVD loan: 2.00 per item per day (Mon Fri). Maximum fine per item per loan period: 8.00* 1-day software loan: 10p per item per day (Mon Fri). Maximum fine per item per loan period: 5.00* Short loan: 2p per minute (Mon Fri). Maximum fine per item per loan period: 8.00* Please note - Fines can exceed the maximum if items are renewed and become overdue again. Fines may be waived for the duration of certification if the borrower has medical or self-certification evidence that they were off sick when the item was due for return. Overdue books, DVDs, equipment and other 7-day and 28-day loan items: Notifications Items issued for more than 7 days have a courtesy reminder ed up to 4 days before the item is due for return. It remains the borrower s responsibility to note the return dates for items borrowed. The Library will not waive charges if a courtesy notice has not been received. Overdue day 1: Overdue notice ed. If there is no address the notice will be posted to the address in the library record. Overdue day 8: 2 nd overdue notice sent. Overdue day 15: 3 rd overdue notice sent. Short loans: Notifications Overdue day 1: Overdue notice ed. If there is no address the notice will be posted to the address in the library record. Overdue day 2: 2 nd overdue notice sent Overdue day 3: 3 rd overdue notice sent Outstanding charges: Notifications Charges exceeding notification sent Escalation: Students All items - 7 days overdue: Library borrowing suspended All items 21 days overdue: Invoice issued for the replacement cost of overdue items IT access suspended until book(s) returned Borrower referred to the University s Credit Controller All items 61 days overdue: 2 nd invoice issued 7

8 25.00 administration charge added (non-returnable) Overdue charges in excess of 20: Library borrowing suspended (suspension will not be enforced if students set up a payment agreement undertaking to make regular payments to clear their debt and adhere to that agreement) Lost or damaged books and other items Students who have lost an item from library stock or have returned the item in a damaged condition will be invoiced for the replacement cost Invoice unpaid after 30 days: 2 nd invoice issued University Credit Controller informed Library borrowing suspended administration charge added (non returnable) Student Enquiry Zone supervisors may, at their discretion, waive charges for lost books if the borrower has been a victim of criminal activity. Evidence of crime required. Escalation: Staff All items 21 days overdue: Invoice issued for the replacement cost of overdue items Library borrowing suspended All items 61 days overdue: 2 nd invoice issued administration charge added (non-returnable) 91 days overdue: Head of Division/Head of School informed. Lost or damaged books and other items Staff who have lost an item from library stock or have returned the item in a damaged condition will be invoiced for the replacement cost Invoice unpaid after 30 days: 2 nd invoice issued Library borrowing suspended administration charge added (non-returnable) Head of Division/Head of School informed Student Enquiry Zone supervisors may, at their discretion, waive charges for lost books if the borrower has been a victim of criminal activity. Evidence of crime required. Escalation: External borrowers, alumni, former students, former staff and visitors All items - 7 days overdue: Library borrowing suspended All items 21 days overdue: Invoice issued for the replacement cost of overdue items All items 61 days overdue: 8

9 2 nd invoice issued administration charge added (non-returnable) All items - 91 days overdue: Referral to the University Credit Controller Debt collection agency referral using the following criteria : UK residents debts of or more (including administration fee), EU residents or more (including administration fee), overseas resident or more (including administration fee) Following referral to debt collection agency overdue library items are nonreturnable Students and staff who leave the University with an unpaid invoice for overdue/lost items will be referred to a debt collection agency Escalation: Reciprocal borrowers, SCONUL Access borrowers All items - 7 days overdue: Library borrowing suspended All items 21 days overdue: Invoice issued for the replacement cost of overdue items Home institution notified All items 61 days overdue: Invoice sent to the home institution for payment and recovery Overdue charges in excess of 20: Library borrowing suspended Lost or damaged books and other items Borrowers joining under the SCONUL Access scheme or from reciprocal partner institutions who have lost an item from library stock or returned it in a damaged condition will be invoiced for the replacement cost Invoice unpaid after 30 days: 2 nd invoice issued Library borrowing suspended Invoice sent to the home institution for payment and recovery Student Enquiry Zone supervisors may, at their discretion, waive charges for lost books if the borrower has been a victim of criminal activity. Evidence of crime required. These penalties will apply to all items issued, including AV and other equipment which may be loaned on behalf of other University Schools and Services. If an item which has been paid for is subsequently recovered the cost, less any fines due may, at the Library s discretion, be refunded. Housekeeping Overdue and lost book charges will remain on a borrower s record until the record is due to be deleted (no less than 1 year after expiry). 9

10 Debts below the threshold for debt collection agency referral will be written off when the borrower record is deleted. Debts reported as unrecoverable by the debt collection agency will be written off All other debt will remain on a borrower s record until paid. 4.5 Debt from previous years Continuing students with any outstanding tuition fees will not normally be allowed to register for the new session. Continuing students with any outstanding accommodation debt (which may have already been referred to a Debt Collection Agency) will be allowed to register for the new academic session but should be aware that in the absence of an approved payment plan being strictly adhered to, the University will refer the debt to one of its Debt Collection Agencies, if this has not already been done. The University will refuse an application for residences from a returning student if they have a poor payment record for residence fees. The University will provide, where applicable, references to future landlords which may affect students securing alternative accommodation in the future. 4.6 Graduation Students with tuition fee debt will be prevented from graduating at the end of their studies until such times that the debt is cleared in full. Conferment of degrees will be withheld and no certificate will be issued. 4.7 Withdrawal from the University It is very unfortunate that some students withdraw from their course prior to its completion and students should be aware that their decision to withdraw early may have an impact on any funding awarded and/or the fees amount charged. Self-funding students If a student withdraws from their programme before the end of the fourth teaching week of Semester 1, they will not be charged any tuition fees. If a student withdraws after the end of the fourth teaching week of Semester 1 but before the end of the fourth teaching week of Semester 2, they will be eligible for a credit for Semester 2 fees. If a student withdraws after the end of the fourth teaching week of Semester 2, fees must be paid for the full year. The date of withdrawal will be deemed to be the date on which the student or school complete the on-line withdrawal process and not the last date of attendance.. The full procedure can be found on OASIS under Student View Online Student Withdrawal. SAAS funded students (including funded Nursing Students) If a student withdraws from their programme before the end of the fourth teaching week of Semester 1, they will not be charged any tuition fees. If a student withdraws from their programme after the end of the fourth week of teaching but prior to the 1 December any tuition fees award will be withdrawn and students will be personally liable for semester 1 fees. If a student withdraws after 1 December then funding will remain in place and will count as a year s funding by SAAS. 10

11 SLC funded students SLC release funding in 3 stages 25% in October, 25% in February and the remaining 50% in May. Students will need to be registered as in attendance on the following dates 7 th September 2015, 11 th January 2016 and 11 th April 2016 in order for SLC to release their funding. If a student withdraws prior to these dates then they may be liable for the balance of fees not funded as per self-funded students as detailed above. Semester 2 enrolled students only Any student that begins their course at the start of semester 2 and then withdraws prior to the end of the fourth week of teaching in semester 2 will not be charged any fees. If a student withdraws after the end of the fourth teaching week in semester 2 they will be liable for the full fee due. In addition to the above, any student required to pay a deposit in order to secure their place on a programme will forfeit the deposit in full if they fail to register, unless they are unable to take up their place as a result of being refused a visa. 4.8 Former students If a student leaves their programme with debt still owing to the University, Finance will continue to pursue recovery of the debt. If the former student fails to agree and adhere to a payment plan to settle all outstanding amounts, then the debt will be referred to one of the University s debt collection agencies which may result in court action being raised against the student. An administration charge of 35 plus VAT, in addition to late payment admin charges of 20 will be added to the outstanding balance prior to the debt being sent. Our debt collection agencies have the right to add further recovery costs to the balances in line with legislation laid down by the government. Former students who later decide to return to the University to study will be denied unless all former debt is paid in full before registration. This includes all outstanding amounts at one of the University s debt collection agencies and irrespective of any debts that have been written off. 4.9 Debt Collection Agencies and Court Action Once a debt has been passed to a Debt Collection Agency and the admin fee of plus VAT charged, the student may be liable to pay for further charges incurred such as judicial interest and judicial expenses. These additional charges will be added to the debt. All judgements, granted in the University s favour, by the court will be recorded in the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines and have an adverse impact on the student s credit rating. Lending institutions will check this register in order to assess the student s credit rating before agreeing to lend money. Therefore, applications for mortgages, loans, credit cards and even mobile phone contracts may be refused in the future. In addition to having an adverse effect on a student s credit rating, the judgement can also be enforced. Such enforcement action will incur further expenses which will, again, be added to the debt. Enforcement action may result in the student s personal items being removed by an enforcement officer and sold at auction, future wages arrested in the hand of a future employer or even being made bankrupt. 11

12 4.10 Complaints Our aim is to resolve issues of dissatisfaction as close to the initial point of contact as possible and to conduct thorough and fair investigations of complaints so that, where appropriate, we can make evidence-based decisions on the facts of each individual case. The universities Complaint Handling Procedure can be viewed via the student portal. 5. BAD AND DOUBTFUL DEBTS Throughout the year the Head of Finance will alert the Finance and Corporate Performance Committee (FCPC) if there are any concerns with any material debts or the level of debt. The Head of Finance will produce a report at the end of the year which will set out by category the number of students in arrears and the total amounts outstanding, along with comparative figures from the previous session and a commentary on factors to which Court s attention should be drawn. 6. REVIEW OF POLICY The Debt Policy will be reviewed by the Head of Finance each year and, if required, re-submitted to FCPC for consideration of changes. This policy has been assessed as to its impact on equality and is deemed to have a Low potential for adverse impact Updated and Approved by University Court on 25 th April

13 APPENDIX 1 This document sets out the various options given to self-funding students in respect of the payment of their tuition fees. Overseas Students Students who commence their course in or after 2013/14 academic year will have to pay their fees in full on or before registration [50% must be paid in order to receive a CAS number] Instalment options will be available to students that provide evidence of UKVI approved funding which is released direct to the University in staged payments Students who are continuing on the same course which commenced prior to 2013/14 academic year and who are studying in both semester 1 and 2 have the following options: Option 1 50% on or before registration 2 further instalments of 25% payable by cash or cheque at the cash desk, online through OASIS by debit/credit card or via a bank transfer. Parents may also pay by using a debit or credit card by visiting the University s online store at Due 30 November & 11 January. Option 2 50% on or before registration 7 equal instalments payable by direct debit from a UK bank account. Due 9 November monthly through to 9 May. Home, RUK & EU Students Students who are studying in both semester 1 and 2 and are either full or part time can choose from the following options: Option 1 Option 2 3 equal instalments payable by cash or cheque at the cash desk, online through OASIS by debit/credit card or via bank transfer. Parents may also pay by using a debit or credit card by visiting the University s online store at Due 15 November, 31 January and 30 April. 7 equal instalments payable by direct debit from a UK bank account. Due 9 November monthly through to 9 May. 13

14 Students who are studying in semester 1 only 2 equal instalments payable by cash or cheque at the cash desk, online through OASIS by debit/credit card or via bank transfer. Parents may also pay by using a debit or credit card by visiting the University s online store at Due 10 November and 10 December. Students who are studying in semester 2 only have the following options: Option 1 Option 2 2 equal instalments payable by cash or cheque at the cash desk, online through OASIS by debit/credit card or via bank transfer. Parents may also pay by using a debit or credit card by visiting the University s online store at Due 28 February and 30 April. 4 equal instalments payable by direct debit from a UK bank account. Due 9 February monthly through to 9 May. Students who commence their full time Post-graduate programme at the January registration will have the following options: Option 1 Option 2 3 equal instalments payable by cash or cheque at the cash desk, online through OASIS by debit/credit card or via bank transfer. Parents may also pay by using a debit or credit card by visiting the University s online store at Due 28 February, 30 April and 30 June. 7 equal instalments payable by direct debit from a UK bank account. Due 9 February monthly through to 9 August NB Parents are also able to set up Direct Debit instructions, not only the student. The Student must indicate on the online registration system that the parent will set up a Direct Debit and an with instructions will be sent to the Parents for them to follow. 14

15 APPENDIX 2 Approved Overseas (Non-European) Sponsors Effective from academic session 2013/14 all sponsors of overseas students will need to pay 50% of the expected tuition fee in order for the student to receive an unconditional offer letter from the Admissions Office. The remaining 50% must be paid prior to registration. However there are some overseas sponsors whereby we have a special relationship that we would not wish to harm and therefore the following sponsors are excluded from the above and will be invoiced for the full tuition fee by the finance department in accordance with its standard procedures. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) British Council MARA Institute of Technology PT PLN Saudi Embassy The Royal Thai Embassy Nanchang University Tullow Oil (Ghana) University of Abuja Tertiary Education Trust Fund Kurdistan Regional Government Human Capacity Development Programme Kuwait Embassy Brazilian Government Science without Borders Programme BP Angola 15

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