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IDP Education acquires Hotcourses Group for £30m

Global student placement company, IDP Education, has acquired the Hotcourses Group for £30.1m. The purchase will add some of the world’s largest education search websites including Whatuni, The Complete University Guide and Hotcourses Abroad to the student recruitment giant’s portfolio.

IDP Education, The Hotcourses GroupAn IDP Education office in Melbourne. The company, which co-owns English language test IELTS, operates 93 student recruitment offices in 30 countries.

Two million users access Hotcourses Group’s database of 500,000 courses from institutions in 48 countries

With more than 66 million visits and two million users accessing Hotcourses Group’s database of 500,000 courses from more than 5,000 institutions in 48 countries, the move expands IDP’s digital service offering to students and clients.

“Many students choose to research and make their study choices online these days”

Speaking with The PIE News, IDP Education’s CEO Andrew Barkla said the company aims to build the Hotcourses Group’s virtual agency capabilities that will enhance face-to-face counselling offered by 600 counsellors at IDP offices in 30 countries.

“Fundamentally we’ve got to give our students choices and many students choose to research and make their study choices online these days,” he said.

“I see that predominantly being led by Hotcourses and the Hotcourses brand, but equally there are many students who want a face-to-face engagement, and many of their parents want a face-to-face engagement as it relates to international study, and that’s where we would direct them to the IDP platform and network.”

Barkla said the Hotcourses Group will remain an independent company. Group CEO Simon Emmett will continue to lead the company and will also join IDP Education’s Global Leadership Team, reporting directly to Barkla. A board comprising of senior executives from both entities, including co-founder Mike Elms, and chaired by Barkla will oversee the Hotcourses Group.

In a statement, Emmett said the agreement “brings together a world leader in education search technology and tools, with a world leader in student placement and preparation”.

“Together we will now provide unparalleled support and guidance at every step of the student journey, from enquiry to enrolment.”

There will be no change to how clients and customers interact with either company, the statement says.

The move is the first “bold step” to accelerate the company’s five-year strategic plan, which also includes providing solutions to students’ career aspirations.

“Together we will now provide unparalleled support and guidance at every step of the student journey”

“We see an opportunity with the international students to provide them with part-time work but as they get through their study period obviously looking to extend our services into areas like internship and ultimately doing that with close relationships with employers in both the destination markets and source markets,” he said. “So that’s still very much part of our strategy vision, but we’re putting one foot in front of the other right now.”

The Hotcourses Group was established in 1996 by Mike Elms and Jeremy Hunt, a conservative MP and currently the UK’s Health Secretary, as an educational print directory for learning opportunities in London. It now employs more than 300 people with offices in the UK, Australia, Asia and North America.

In 2013, the company’s shareholders – excluding Hunt – held detailed talks with Inflexion Private Equity about a takeover, but abandoned the discussions after failing to agree on terms.

Australia-based IDP Education is a co-owner of IELTS, and is 50% owned by 38 Australian universities through Education Australia Limited. The remaining 50% is traded on the ASX.

It launched an IPO in 2015 selling 125.1 million shares, priced at A$2.65 each, giving it a market capitalisation of A$663.3m.

It also owns and operates 10 English language schools in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

The sale of the Hotcourses Group is expected to be completed by the end of January 2017. Barkla said he expects Hotcourses to contribute to IDP earnings starting in FY 2018 which begins July 1 this year.

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