Regent’s College snaps up for-profit provider (UK)

By John Morgan

Regent’s College is to take over the American InterContinental University London in what is thought to be the first UK acquisition of a for-profit by a not-for-profit higher education provider.

Regent’s, which is likely to be awarded university title in the coming weeks and become Regent’s University London, said the move was part of its drive to become “the leading private non-profit university in Europe”.

The college has acquired AIU London – which in 2005 became the first institution to fail a routine Quality Assurance Agency inspection – from its US owner, Career Education Corporation.  Aldwyn Cooper, Regent’s principal, said the college will initially run AIU London as a for-profit subsidiary, before subsuming it within 12 months.

Regent’s will “absolutely stay as a charity and will close the for-profit subsidiary down”, he added.

Professor Cooper said the takeover of AIU London, which is located close to Regent’s, offered the chance to take over the leases of its buildings, providing room to expand. There are also “a lot of synergies in the nature of the programmes” the two institutions offer, he added.

Professor Cooper said Regent’s would now be able to start a new school of fashion and design, an area that has been a focus for AIU London, which was given a clean bill of health by the QAA in 2008.

AIU London students due to graduate before June 2014 will be able to complete their current courses. All other students currently at AIU London who expect to graduate after June 2014 will be given the opportunity to transfer to a Regent’s College programme.

The acquisition was approved by the Higher Learning Commission accrediting body in the US during its board meeting on 22 February. The deal is expected to be completed by 1 April.

Career Education Corporation would be able to “divest itself of what was a loss-making asset” and would “compensate us for taking that on board”, Professor Cooper said of the transactions involved in the deal.

Asked if Regent’s could mount further takeovers, he said: “We are certainly looking at a number of other potential targets which would be complementary to the portfolio we have.”

Source: Times Higher Education