Torrens University modernizes the payment experience for 19K+ students with Stripe

Torrens University is Australia’s fastest-growing university aiming to provide the best student experience to support academic outcomes. Its vision, to “champion the power of people to connect the world for good,” is core to the university’s commitment to prioritizing its people, no matter where they are.

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Torrens University, Australia’s fastest-growing university, offers career-focused education programs with an emphasis on flexible, customizable student experiences. The university aims to deliver the best possible journey for those students, from enrollment through graduation. But its payment portal posed challenges for students as soon as they registered for classes. For example, students outside of Australia had limited options for making cross-border tuition payments.

“Education is expensive, and many of our students are coming from outside of Australia, so they know nothing about our banking system,” said Adam Guinea, vice president of finance at Torrens University. “A cold and unfamiliar payment interface naturally makes people anxious about making a large financial decision.”

Beyond building a friendlier interface for its students, the university also wanted a more scalable payments infrastructure. Its previous system was built on traditional banking systems that were nonintuitive and limited the types of payment methods it could accept, and it wanted to shift its infrastructure to one that would help it expand globally and keep up with growth. “When it comes to payments, we really looked at replicability and scalability. It’s important for us to be able to enter new markets with minimal modifications and easily manage increasing transaction volumes,” said Dr. Ashish Bharadwaj, chief information officer at Torrens University.

In addition to these needs, the university wanted a solution that could improve its back-end operations. Having real-time access to payment information and automating processing and reconciliation would help shift focus to improving the payment experience rather than doing manual work. These steps would also offer new financial data that the team could use to make business decisions, but using two disconnected payment providers made this impossible.


To meet the team’s challenges, Torrens University set out to transform its payments infrastructure. The university implemented Stripe to shift from its traditional bank’s rigid system to a more flexible system that gave the team more control over its students’ payment experience. This included consolidating three disparate payment channels into a single platform. With Stripe, the university was able to uproot a complex system of foreign exchange wire transfers and clunky processing pages from traditional financial institutions that didn’t communicate well with each other.

Now, students are presented with the most relevant payment methods automatically based on their browser and IP address. “Stripe is a quick and responsive business partner that lets us tailor our platform to our students with new payment types and currencies,” said Sarah Chan, senior management accountant at Torrens University.

Torrens University worked closely with Stripe’s implementation and professional services teams to develop a payments interface customized to its bespoke requirements using Stripe Payments and Stripe Elements. “Stripe’s professional services team presented a mock-up of what the Torrens University payment portal could look like with their products that best suited our needs,” Chan added. “The Stripe team also asked questions we hadn’t previously considered so we could build a custom solution.”

Stripe Elements enabled the university to create unique pages to include new payment types, including WeChat, Alipay, and BECS Direct Debit. It also integrated Stripe’s Foreign Exchange API to help students instantly see pricing in their native currency, further reducing friction in the enrollment process. A payment system that once took weeks of manual transactions and paperwork was migrated to instant, live payments with a simpler, more intuitive interface.

As enrollment numbers grow, Torrens University has also used its Stripe Dashboard to more effectively manage its internal payment processing. Near-real-time processing means its teams can monitor, analyze, and review payment trends quickly to make more informed business decisions. These include improved fraud detection, easier management of failed transactions, and faster access to payment reports.


Quick implementation of a modernized payment solution

Working with Stripe’s professional services team, Torrens University designed and implemented its new payment solution roughly 66% faster than it would have taken to implement on its own. The entire end-to-end implementation timeline was around 10 weeks. “Both teams learned from each other along the way, and that collaboration meant we were able to finish on time and within budget. You can’t ask for more,” Dr. Bharadwaj said.

More than two hours of complex payment paperwork reduced to minutes for 19K+ students using simplified checkout pages

Stripe enabled the university to build a fully customizable payment portal to simplify the enrollment process for more than 19,000 students. Consolidating foreign and domestic wire transfers, along with removing outdated payment portals from traditional banks, allowed Torrens University to dramatically accelerate the payment process for students. With Stripe Payments, students can quickly and easily pay how they want without having to worry about navigating complex wire transfers across currencies and borders.

With Stripe Elements, the university can build checkout pages that prepopulate student ID numbers and other information into payment pages, so returning students can easily enroll in their next batch of courses. Being able to more effectively brand its payment gateway also helps reaffirm student trust in the site—the custom pages still feel like Torrens University, rather than a third-party payments platform.

The impact of these changes can be felt throughout the payment process, not just at the moment of purchase. “Our international students used to have to fill out and send in paperwork that could take days or weeks to process.
With Stripe, we built a significantly better UI and cut those days to minutes as well as reduced the failed transaction rate—both of which contributed to dramatically improving the user experience,” said Dr. Bharadwaj.

Expanding into new markets quickly with new payment types and nine major currencies

As Torrens University expands, it can easily offer new currencies and payment options to its growing student population. Currently, the university accepts nine major currencies and a rapidly expanding pool of payment types. “We’re managing payments in the tens of thousands of dollars,” said Guinea. “These purchases may be a person’s life savings. Being able to use a payment method that feels safe and convenient helps them manage a big decision carefully and thoughtfully.”

“Stripe makes that growth easy for us,” added Chan. “If we want to turn on a payment type, we just click a button, which means we can move at our own pace.”

More reliable payments infrastructure for a growing business

While students reap the benefits of a friendlier UX and faster payment processing, Torrens University’s team can use Stripe behind-the-scenes to build a more scalable business. Real-time payment reports allow finance teams to quickly identify failed or missing payments, so they can reach out to students sooner.

With least-cost routing automation powered by Stripe Payments, which helps reduce fees by sending payments through the most cost-effective payment network option, the university expects to save more than $100K per year.

Next, Torrens University is working to consolidate its invoicing process for multiple courses into Stripe Invoicing to shift away from nightly batch processing to real-time invoice generation. “Data actually makes things happen, and with Stripe, we have access to more of our financial data faster than ever, and we can use that information to make better decisions for us and our students,” said Dr. Bharadwaj.

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