‘It’s harrowing’: Inside Edinburgh University’s failing payment system

Staff and students have been left without salary and support payments for weeks

Staff and mature students at the University of Edinburgh have been left without salary and support payments due to the introduction of a new financial system.

The university says it is “sincerely sorry” to those affected and says the disruption was caused by them having to “interrupt financial processing” over the summer to transfer data to the new system.

PhD students and others have been badly impacted by the situation, with stipends (money provided to support students during their studies) left unpaid for weeks. One student said it is “harrowing” how people’s lives have been impacted.

The Edinburgh Tab understands that many staff and students are concerned about paying for basic necessities including food and rent, as they are being forced to rack up large credit card debts and request repayments as expenses.

Some suppliers have stopped providing services to the University of Edinburgh due to delayed payments, the BBC reports. The university has now ordered an external review into the situation.

“This has been the most disruptive, wholly irresponsible, undesired and unneeded change that I have witnessed and experienced in 35 years of academic research and teaching”, claimed one student.

Another added that the disruption caused by the Payment and Money system’s (P&M) rollout could trigger a “mass exodus” of staff from the university.

A spokesperson for the Edinburgh branch of the University and College Union said: “UoE’s first responsibility is to pay their staff on time, in full”, adding that the union is fighting to ensure everyone impacted is compensated.

The P&M system was first introduced in 2020, with the rollout completed this year. Concerns about the stability of salary payments being affected by the new system were raised back in 2021, according to BBC Scotland.

The university says it is working tirelessly to get through the payment backlog, and says issues over student payments have been raised to the highest level, with more staff now working to solve the issue.

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “We are acutely aware that the University is facing disruption caused by the implementation of our new finance services underpinned by the People and Money system. We have listened to how this is affecting our staff, students, suppliers and partners, and we are taking a range of actions to address their issues. We are sincerely sorry for the position that this has put people in.

“The implementation of the new finance system required us to interrupt financial processing for a period over summer to allow us to test the system and transfer huge volumes of data. This has unfortunately led to a backlog of some payments.

“We have increased the number of people in our finance team who are working tirelessly to process the increased volume of outstanding invoices. The University prides itself in fostering good relationships with suppliers, and we are doing our best to ensure all payments are processed as quickly as possible. We apologise to any of our students, staff or suppliers who are experiencing a delay in payment.

“We know there have been stipend and student payment issues and these have been escalated to the highest level to be resolved as quickly as possible.

“The University’s Principal and senior colleagues have held a series of open meetings with staff and met with postgraduate research students this week to hear their concerns. We will continue to keep our community informed on how we are urgently addressing their issues.

“We apologise to all those affected and are working to ensure this will not happen again.”

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