The global pandemic has accelerated the need for the education sector to look at how it establishes a better out-of-classroom experience. Many schools learned the hard way that the classroom experience did not directly translate to remote learning. Universities, constrained to online teaching, remained under a critical gaze for still requesting full tuition fees.  

As millions moved to online classrooms last year, those developing smart Educational Tech (EdTech) solutions found themselves a platform, and investors quickly followed suit. The necessary acceleration in transformational solutions intensified their interest. By the first half of 2021, Venture Capital related EdTech investment in Europe had registered 68% more funding ($1.8bn) than the entirety of 2020.  

EdTech has enabled the delivery of a new form of learning architecture. Whether it be language apps, virtual tutoring, video conferencing tools, or online learning platforms, there has been a significant surge in usage. While the future learning environment remains unclear, the use of technological processes will continue. Institutions  must continue to adapt to carry on giving opportunities to connect, learn, and grow.  

Embedded finance expert Weavr looks at the opportunities presented and how embedded solutions can help EdTech applications deliver superior student experiences. 

The hidden friction of learning 

Education payments run into much more than annual tuition fees. They encompass accommodation, printing fees, library fines, necessary course literature, and so many more costs.

The way institutions choose to facilitate these payments varies. Some will outsource to a third party while others, like Lancaster University, build their own payment interface.

While both approaches demonstrate that institutions are embracing more digital payment options, students’ payment experiences are not as frictionless as those in other aspects of their life. If students are directed back and forth between their chosen method of payment and their institution, it can often make a simple payment far from straightforward. Students’ expectations have moved on, so it's time for these educational institutions to keep pace with that in order to deliver a first-class, holistic learning experience.  

Teaching standards  

Indeed, with fees now around £9,250 per year in England, universities are under pressure to deliver on student expectations. Fears are rife that institutions will be ordered to issue refunds if they do not offer face-to-face learning experiences, so it’s imperative that universities provide a service that justifies the price tag.

In order to do this, higher education will need to use a dual approach to teaching. This will give all students access to the high level of teaching they deserve. Alongside the reintroduction of face-to-face learning, the option of online teaching should still be available for those who aren’t able or don’t wish to join in-person lectures.

Various platforms have helped support this by making resources more readily available. While tutoring start-ups have driven EdTech forward, peer-to-peer content sharing platforms for teachers have also seen a rise. Thousands of teachers have begun sharing or selling their tried-and-tested lesson plans, activities, and worksheets online. This has created an open education resource for educators to support each other. 

This isn’t about creating new financial models. The solutions will come from embedding financial services seamlessly into these learning EdTech platforms and applications. 

International learning  

Universities in the UK also receive more funding and higher fee payment from international students, but due to COVID and the lasting effects of Brexit, it has become increasingly hard for international students to come to the UK to study. 

International students, often for visa purposes, will need to open a UK bank account but may struggle when receiving or sending funds due to exchange rates or bank fees. Embedded finance offers EdTech organisations the opportunity to create elegant student experiences to help manage multiple elements of their financial life – such as fees, travel, and insurance – and streamline international transfers. 

By integrating payment capabilities that offer a variety of payment plans directly into universities’ platforms, universities become far more accessible and appealing to students from any background.  

Expanding EdTech 

To further meet the needs of students against the backdrop of our increasingly digital world, EdTech requires more innovation. Many EdTech platforms are three-sided marketplaces, involving customers, content providers, and tutors.

Integrating payment capabilities directly within a marketplace offers each side an optimal experience; A choice of customised subscriptions or payment plans in manageable instalments for students and parents offered contextually at the point of need; For remote content providers, tutors, mentors and lecturers the automation of project-based contract payments, salary or even advance salary payments providing access to earned pay before payday, an employee benefit that is increasingly becoming more attractive, can be implemented with ease.

Embedded finance reimagines payment management processes that not only make them more efficient but also more reliable as background processes. The power of these platforms is the frictionless experience for students, lecturers, and the university. This ease of use is a standard expectation in the digital age, and institutions need to stay on top of this in order to deliver a gold-standard experience for its employees and students. 

As classrooms and lecture halls start to reopen, the demand for seamless user experiences is a key driver for change. The invisible handling of money via embedded finance can help bring this about. 

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The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

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Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

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FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

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FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

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The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

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If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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