It is important to establish what type of debtor a customer is in regards to their status and relationship to the University. Their attitude to repayment must be considered in order to tailor recovery methods.
Affiliated organisations (e.g. Colleges, CMIT, CUP, Cambridge Assessment)
Invoices raised to this customer-type should not normally become overdue or require a bad-debt provision posted against them. When an invoice becomes overdue, Departments must promptly call the customer to establish whether there is a dispute about or errors on the invoice and seek to actively resolve the issue in good time.
Payment should be collected before the student leaves the University, particularly when they are based outside of the UK. Awareness of the duration of the academic year when billing and chasing debts relating to students is advised. Departments may consider excluding students from their programmes or seeking their exclusion from graduation if their course fees are not settled in full.
Invoices raised to this customer-type should not be allowed to become overdue for payment or require a bad-debt provision against them. Prompt collection is required if the employee is about to leave the employment of the University. Departments should aim to achieve appropriate resolution without resorting to legal action.
Sponsors and donors
There is often a fine line between what 'sponsorship' is and what is a 'donation' - see VAT and Other Taxes web pages for further guidance.
Departments must ensure that pre-sales procedures have been followed for invoices raised in relation to sponsorship as they are essentially 'intangibles' which can be difficult, if not impossible, to recover. If a Customer Purchase Order or written agreement has not been received from the sponsor or donor as recommended, the Department will need to speak directly to the individual who promised the funds.
Such commitments are often made at one level of an organisation and processed for payment at another. It is feasible that funds are withheld due to little more than a lack of communication on the customer's side. The Department must establish the reason for non-payment and be persistent with the debt's recovery.
Chasing for payment of overdue invoices relating to these types of monies can be sensitive as relationships have often been carefully built with the sponsor/donor to obtain such commitments and the Department may hope for future commitments. In the case of sponsorship it should be remembered, when chasing payment that the customer will often have derived some commercial benefit from their involvement. Imaginative and subtle reminders regarding recovery could be considered in the initial stages of recovery. For example, letters thanking the sponsor/donor for their commitment and outlining what their donation/sponsorship is funding may pre-empt a need for further recovery efforts.