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Developing Global Standards for International Student Funds Verification
When the industry of international education was “young” – perhaps 20 years ago – no one paid much attention. Now, however, the business of global student mobility cannot be ignored: It’s grown into a major export sector for host countries around the world, ranking in the top ten industries for annual economic impact for the United States, Australia, Canada and others.
As international education matures, professionals within the field can expect far greater scrutiny from all angles: From the supply side, the demand side, and everyone in between, including the media and the government. Increased transparency and heightened accountability can be a very good thing for everyone involved.
One way to ensure transparency is to develop global standards – a tall order in any industry. It’s prudent to isolate particular components of the larger process. In this case, FundsV is focusing solely on the host’s requirement of prospective international students to prove financial capacity as a condition for admission.
After several years of research, the head of FundsV (Cheryl Darrup-Boychuck) was invited to participate in SWIFT's Innovation Lab in Vancouver in June 2010. Several new project leaders presented their ideas to a panel of SWIFT executives and venture capitalists. The idea of international student funds verification finished in second place. The concept caught the attention of SWIFT's Standards Banking Initiatives staff, who asked Cheryl to assemble a Working Group to develop global standards, ultimately in compliance with ISO20022.
ISO20022 is a universal financial industry message scheme; it is the international standard that defines the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) platform for the development of financial message standards. Its business modelling approach allows users and developers to represent financial business processes and underlying transactions in a formal but syntax-independent notation.
FundsV is now building momentum for a new SWIFT message class for “authorities” to verify account balances, in compliance with host requirements. No concrete time frame has been set, though it’s prudent for FundsV to be prepared to respond to SWIFT when they seek industry input again, which will likely involve current parameters for data collection. So FundsV developed a simple, 10-question survey for colleagues to complete, documenting current practices. Questions deal with character limits for eMail addresses, and any special formatting rules for passwords. We’re particularly interested in feedback from outside of the U.S.
The reason this is important for international education: Currently, FundsV represents about 2,800 financial institutions around the world. Establishing a new SWIFT message class would increase that coverage to all 9,000 SWIFT-member banks, so obviously that would provide a more comprehensive solution – and significantly advance the goal of developing global standards to improve the efficiency and integrity of international student funds verification.
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