How universities can replace cash and manage costs during the Covid-19 pandemic

Universities are deeply impacted by Covid-19. 

It starts with students and teaching. Universities are unique social places where students live together on campuses and spend most of their days together in lecture halls, university corridors, libraries and bars. They are also uniquely international places. Almost 20% of the UK student population are international students.

All of this has been rudely interrupted by Covid-19. Classes moved online and many international students have been asked to return home for the time being. The 2020/21 academic year won’t see a return to normal either. Cambridge announced it will hold all lectures virtually until summer 2021 while other universities plan to mix online courses with socially distanced workshops and labs. 

It is estimated that Covid-19 has accelerated many organisation’s digital strategy by 6 years. For universities, the same may be happening with an accelerated move towards the long heralded flipped classroom. 

Paying hardship funds and scholarships became harder

Covid-19 has also impacted the way universities manage cash and costs.

One area is disbursing scholarships and hardship funds. With many families financially struggling during Covid, demands on hardship funds have dramatically increased. 

Traditional ways of disbursing scholarships and hardship funds such as cash and cheques no longer work with students all at home, while transferring to bank accounts may also not help the student if that money is used by their bank to plug an overdraft.

Petty cash, p-cards and invoices also became harder to manage

The impact is wider than disbursements to students. Petty cash and procurement cards that were traditionally used by faculty and staff no longer work if everybody is working from home. Emailing around the card number is only a temporary and insecure way of dealing with it.

Even supplier invoices become harder to manage. With everyone at home it is harder to find out which invoices can be paid and which ones cannot.

Universities need to control costs in lean times

The University and College Union estimates that UK universities could lose around £2.5bn next year in tuition fees alone. 

To minimise job losses, universities will have to tighten their belt wherever possible which in turn will require a much stronger process to ensure all departments and faculties stay in budget and all inessential spend is eliminated.

Yordex: prepaid cards, invoices and cost control

Yordex offers a comprehensive set of services to help universities manage these challenges.

A core part of our solution are our physical and virtual prepaid cards:

  • For students, we provide a prepaid cards, which are issued free of charge and have no hidden insurance or top-up fees or transaction charges
  • Funds can be automatically made available either on demand or on a payment schedule
  • Virtual procurement cards allow faculty and staff to securely spend from their own homes. These cards can then be used to make approved purchases
  • All transactions made by card holders are instantly visible in our app
  • Administrators can generate reports or and synchronise all payments with your accounting system or other central systems for easy reporting

Yordex also offers a range of other services that help administrators control costs:

  • End-to-end automation of supplier invoices. The platform scans the invoice, automatically routes it to the right person for approval, books it in your accounting system and, if required, automatically pays the invoice on the due date as well
  • A staff-friendly purchase pre-approval (PO) process to ensure all purchases are pre-authorised and within budget
  • A new way of tracking all spend against budgets in real time to ensure everyone stays in budget and the university as a whole weathers these difficult times

Get in touch

Guiding your university through the Covid-19 pandemic will be hard. Our goal is to make it easier for you to manage cash and costs so you can focus on what really matters.

If you are interested in learning more, please book a demo or contact us on