Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Opportunities in British For-Profit Education

British Higher Education is set to change beyond recognition in 2012, not just in terms of rising student fees, but also in terms of the structure and offering of the sector. It is fair to argue that as the country moves from public funding of higher education to a tuition fee led provision, one inescapable consequence is to broaden the scope of participation of the private sector Higher Education. This, despite the resistance from the certain sections of the academic community, is already accepted as a policy direction and new players are set to position themselves to gain a share of the newly opened up market.




This is also a time when what constituted British For-Profit Education industry is at a crisis. The government has introduced significant changes in the student visa regime, limiting the access and the privileges that the Non-EU students had to education in Britain. Introduced with a clearly protective slant, these policies are designed to be temporary, but effective enough to drive major changes in what has been a largely unorganized sector. This new muscular regulatory environment is creating new opportunities for growth through mergers and acquisitions, and in general terms, improving the profile of the sector and generating interests from serious investors.




The third important, and overarching, trend is the global growth of middle class, particularly in India, South East Asia and Africa, where the crumbling education infrastructure is unable to meet the demands of a rapidly expansive aspiring young population and home-grown businesses hungry for globally skilled professionals. The demand for world-class education, provided by, pre-eminently among others, American and British universities, are at an all-time high. The pay-off, in terms of a good job and a good life at the completion of studies, is clear even in the middle of a worldwide recession.




These three intertwining trends open up an opportunity to create a serious, globally focused, for profit education company in Britain, which uses modern technology to transform educational delivery and earns its profits by leveraging arbitrage within the great requirement of a global education and highly fragmented, place-based delivery models that exist today. Such a venture will be timely, as the British Higher Education transforms itself and the For Profit companies are allowed a more respected, important space in the scheme of things, and relevant, as British Higher Education must pursue innovation to reach out to students across the world and not lose them to the next tier competition coming from universities in Canada, Malaysia and China.

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