A US private equity company has paid over $100 million for a 25 per cent stake in Into University Partnerships, valuing the total UK-based international education company at over $400 million, or quarter of a billion pounds. The sale to New York-based Leeds Equity Partnerships, which invests exclusively in education and knowledge-based industries, is designed to provide Into’s university partners with access to external capital, according to Into chairman Andrew Colin, who said he was ‘delighted to confirm that we have secured this significant new funding to support the continued development of public-private partnerships’.
Unlike other global pathway programmes, Into operates a joint venture model with partner universities in the UK, US and Asia, benefitting from international student fee income on pre-university programmes and retaining control over academic standards and branding. Sources at Into told the Gazette the money would be used to increase market presence, particularly in the US, where international students make up only 4 per cent of total enrolments compared to some 14 per cent in the UK and 20 per cent in Australia. Funding will also focus on regional education hubs and Transnational Education programmes, in which English-medium universities deliver programmes in the students’ own country.
The Into group, which was founded six years ago, turned over a quarter of a billion dollars (£160 million) in the last financial year and has an infrastructure portfolio with a current investment value of over $300 million.
Jeffrey T Leeds, co-founder and president of the US company, said, ‘We are excited about partnering with such an exceptional team. Andrew Colin, John Sykes and Steve Sale have built a successful, impactful business.’
The Leeds–Into deal sees Andrew Colin teamed up with Colin Powell, former US secretary of state and chair of the Leeds board of advisers. Other members of the board include two former US secretaries of education: Richard R Riley, who served under Bill Clinton, and Roderick R Paiger, who served under George W Bush.
Private equity firms have taken an increasing interest in the international sector. The Carlyle Group acquired the Aspect chain of language schools from US education company Laureate before selling it on to Kaplan, part of the Washington Post group of companies. Study Group, founded by Andrew Colin in the early 1990s, was acquired by Providence Equity from Australian private equity firm CHAMP and Petersen Investment in 2010 for $660 million.