With STA International’s Student Debt Collection services, you get much more besides. We aim to provide a holistic approach to solve the challenges facing university income and finance executives.

Tracing.

Collection requires connection

Former students may never return to the address given to the university and provided to us. When a returned letter is marked ‘gone away’ or an ‘informer’ tells us that the subject is no longer resident at the address provided, we transfer the debt to our specialist in-house trace team following client permission.

Information on the subject is taken from credit reference agencies and consented and public information databases. One of our trace analysts collates the data, looking at the various data-sets, including telephone directory, electoral roll, insurance information, loan applications, credit activity, and residency scores, to determine the subject’s most recent address. Two separate data sets must confirm the address and comply with the Credit Services Association’s Code of Practice.

The trace analyst will attempt to confirm the address via a telephone call wherever possible or send a soft letter to the new address. We must make all calls at reasonable times and intervals, with outbound calls ceasing at 8pm prompt. Investigators will always be circumspect and discreet when attempting their contact and will not bring excessive pressure to bear on the subject.

This independent verification determines ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ traces, ‘positives’ being c70% of all traces, from which we collect c50% of the debt value.

Legal debt collection.

Legal action is a last resort for home (UK) based students failing to pay at the amicable stage, with only a small minority of home student debts received reaching legal action.

The final part of our amicable collection involves the Pre-Action Protocol (PAP). PAP encourages early engagement to enable the parties to resolve matters without the need for court action. We only recommend sending a Letter of Claim (LOC) when all amicable efforts fail, and you should only accept our recommendation if you intend to take legal action for continued non-payment. We send the LOC with full details of the debt, an information sheet, reply form, and standard financial statement, and the customer has 30 days to respond.

With your prior approval, litigation starts when our partner solicitors firm Brachers LLP issues a Claim via the County Court Bulk Centre (CCBC) in Northampton. CCBC is cheaper, faster, and more straightforward than other County Courts. When you sanction action, we advance UK legal costs and invoice you to save valuable time. Your customer has 14 days to pay or respond before we make an Application for Entering a Judgment. A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is a Court Order that confirms that the debtor has defaulted on payment. The CCJ is the Court’s final decision, which gives you the power to take enforcement action to collect the debt. Recorded against the student’s credit record, the CCJ affects their ability to obtain credit.

At this stage, a range of enforcement actions enables us to recover your debt, including High Court Enforcement, Attachment of Earnings, Garnishee Order, Charging Order, Information Order, and Bankruptcy. By far, our most successful is the use of High Court Enforcement Officers who visit the customer and make payment arrangements or claim goods for resale. The Judgment’s shelf-life is six years giving you time to wait for enforcement when your customer seeks credit or enjoys higher income.

Most of the associated legal costs and fees are recoverable from the student, along with the Court’s mandated rates of interest.

Commercial debt collection for H&FE.

Third-party intervention

Third-party intervention is a strong suit in debt collection. If your events, conferences, and facilities hire and research customers do not pay you to terms, they are likely to be doing the same with other creditors. As your customer increases its debt exposure across multiple suppliers, so your chances of being paid slip further away. Time is of the essence: for payment tomorrow, escalate today.

We check the solvency and liquidity of each commercial account you place with us for collection. It is crucial our collector understands your customer’s ability to pay, and negotiate from a position of strength. They deal quickly with spurious excuses for non-payment, challenge cash flow claims and record broken promises as your customer’s admission of debt.

Free-of-charge

With all of our recovery team fully trained and up to date with the latest business to business debt collection rules, we add Late Payment Act interest and collection costs to each commercial debt placed meaning that, when paid, our collection is free to you. The speed of recovery is essential to you, so we review our actions after 28 days, and make our recommendation to you if the account remains unpaid.

Escalation and remittance

Our amicable recovery efforts minimise the need for legal action, saving you time and extra cost, though we may recommend legal action as a last resort. We charge you commission for amicable and legal recoveries, remitting collected funds to you every two weeks by BACS.

Reporting

With your DSO to protect, our actions are prompt, persistent and conclusive. We earn commission on monies recovered, so it is in our best interest to get you paid as fast as we can. For your peace-of-mind, our reporting portal Your Debts Online keeps you in touch with our progress 24/7.

Free-of-charge UK credit reports

Minimising the need for B2B debt collection means assessing credit risk; that’s what our free-of-charge UK commercial credit reports do for HE clients.

Credit Management Training.

As a direct result of a topic raised at a discussion forum, we now provide university training, either on-campus or neutral venues. Jacqueline McConnell, compliance and training manager in our Glasgow office, leads the seminars that cover understanding your customer, treating students fairly, vulnerability, telephone and interview techniques, handling difficult situations, and wellbeing. Seminar content is flexible to meet the changing landscape of the university, and its challenges.

Topics covered on the day include:

Best practice guidance from the FCA and CMA

Overcome any barriers when dealing with any sensitive matters while maintaining compliance

An interactive review of different behavioural methods that can help diffuse difficult situations

How to deal with cases of vulnerable students

Techniques that you can employ to deal with the stressful situations in your day-to-day engagement with difficult students

The inaugural seminar in London received excellent feedback with an average overall rating of 9.2/10, with attendees praising the levels of interaction and engagement.

It was informative and was relaxed, meaning people were comfortable to ask questions

I enjoyed the whole training seminar… it was interesting to talk about vulnerability and how this affects all universities. I did also like the section on how to deal with annoyed customers and tips on how to answer telephone calls from these students/customers