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UTech goes cashless (main) targets $1 billion in tuition payments for online collection

Published:Wednesday | December 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM
File Entrance to the University of Technology at Papine, St. Andrew

The University of Technology Jamaica (UTech) is pushing to increase collection of some J$1 billion in tuition fees each semester through its online portal which it operates with National Commercial Bank (NCB) as its partner.

Students are also being encouraged to pay boarding and other auxiliary fees online or under a new arrangement with GraceKennedy's bill payment subsidiary Bill Express and Paymaster, which have multiple payment locations islandwide.

Lorence Brown, chief business and finance officer at UTech, said on Monday that some 12,000 students at the university can all pay fees online. Those who do not have cards can be facilitated in doing so at the bill-payment outlets, which will make the online payment when handed cash.

The entire amount will be credited to the students' accounts, while UTech will be billed for the service by the payment companies. No extra charge will be debited for cash paid by students, Brown said.

The finance officer did not disclose the details of service charges between UTech, Paymaster, Bill Express and NCB.

Tuition fees at UTech total some $1 billion per semester. Of the 12,000 students enrolled, fees for 3,500 of them are paid directly to the school by the Students' Loan Bureau (SLB).

In its push to go cashless, UTech is also engineering a new arrangement with the SLB and NCB whereby each student who receives an SLB grant can get the cash on a NCB Keycard, instead of collecting it from UTech as has been done in the past. This system should be in place during the coming semester, Brown said.

Some 450 boarders may also now pay cash to Paymaster and Bill Express. Students also have the option of making payments to NCB branches.

Noting that the capacity for online payment has long been in place but remains underutilised, Brown said the secure features of UTech's online site are managed by NCB with which it partners to manage the portal.

No cash payments will be allowed after January 5, 2015, the university said in a release this week. "This will enable online payment of tuition, boarding, examination, application, transcript and ancillary fees, as well as fees for other miscellaneous services offered by the university," the release said.

"Students and other stakeholders are asked to make payments for these services online at No cash transactions, credit cards or cheque payments will be handled on the UTech, Papine campus at the accounts receivables cashier," UTech said.

Payments can also be made online via any of the university's payment gateways at Paymaster or Bill Express, or at any of their branches located islandwide. NCB will accept fees for tuition and boarding only on behalf of the university. All other payments must be handed over to the payment companies, corporate communications manager at UTech, Michelle Beckford, explained on Monday.

The UTech release quoted Carmen Facey, senior director, business and asset administrator at UTech, as noting that the online payment system will "make it more convenient and safer for students and other stakeholders to transact business," reducing the risk of carrying large sums of cash, and it will also eliminate the need to stand in long lines at the university's accounts receivables cashier.