Bank charges hit international students

International students are hit by bank charges of up to £1,000 when paying tuition fees, according to TransferWise, a financial services company. However Oxford students have met their claims with scepticism and surprise. 

TransferWise claim, “The average self-financing undergraduate, paying tuition fees at £9,000, unwittingly pays £335 in hidden bank charges… MBA students fees [sic] are hit the worst with hidden charges potentially running upwards of £1,000.” 

Co-founder of TransferWise, Taavet Hinrikus said, “Whatever the banks’ marketing materials say, they do not offer international money transfers for free.  High street banks take around five per cent of the money transferred through the exchange rate – even when they claim ‘no fees’. 

“It’s outrageous that the banks are hoodwinking students like this – tuition fees are high enough. I’ve made it my mission to do to money transfer what Skype did to calls.” 

However, Oxford students reacted with scepticism and surprise to TransferWise’s claims. Liv Utvaer, a second-year lawyer at New College said, “I just assumed they charged me a bit, but never bothered to look into the exact amount.  Five per cent sounds like a lot.” 

Chrissie Yoon, a first-year Bio-chemist at Oriel commented, “Five per cent in context of the amount I pay for tuition is a considerable amount, and it’s unreasonable that I had absolutely no idea about it.” 

However, a survey conducted by TransferWise found that “eighty five per cent of those who made an international transfer in the last year significantly underestimated or simply don’t know how much they were charged.” 

The effects of bank charges hit some hard: Izabela Karasinska-Stanley, an international student at New College, was upset that as a result of poor bank exchange rates, “I have resorted to stealing money off my parents and eating home-grown potatoes because I am so poor.”

But some students have taken steps to avoid bank charges: Navjeev Singh, an Economics & Management student at St Peter’s, said, “It is quite a hefty fee.  So I pay everything from my UK bank account and avoid using my Singapore bank account as much as possible.  My allowance is given in pounds and kept in my UK account.  Five per cent is really high.”