The largest for-profit college chain in the world may soon go public, according to Bloomberg reporters Leslie Picker and Devin Banerjee.
Laureate Education — which owns more than 80 universities in 30 countries — “is interviewing banks for a $US1 billion initial public offering in the US … [and] has been meeting with potential underwriters for an IPO that could value the education juggernaut at about $US5 billion,” according to Thursday’s Bloomberg report.
Founded by CEO Douglas Becker in 1999, Laureate has become one of the biggest powerhouses in higher education.
Despite its growth, though, it may face problems with an IPO. As Picker and Banerjee note, “The market climate surrounding for-profit education could be better … Enrollment has slowed amid recruiting abuses and student debt concerns, leading to a regulatory crackdown.”
However, Becker argued in an interview with Inside Higher Ed last year why Laureate shouldn’t be lumped in with other, more controversial, for-profit education companies:
From our perspective, we’ve always stood apart. Most of our work has been outside of the United States. Most of our work has been building universities that are more aspirational — that are higher-end. We have medical schools, and engineering and business and law, and levels of accreditation outside of the United States that are very, very difficult to attain. So I think we’ve been very different from the typically U.S. for-profit institution that typically focuses on the vocational education segment. And that’s why they have ended up with more vulnerable customers, higher default rates and a lot of the issues that needed to be corrected. But they also were serving a very important population that might not otherwise have been served.
We’ve reached out to Laureate for comment on the Bloomberg report and will update with any statement we receive.
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