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Kaplan acquires BridgeU, int’l K-12 guidance provider

BridgeU has been acquired by education company Kaplan for an undisclosed sum, as the university and careers guidance provider prepares for its next phase of growth.

BridgeU helps universities to engage with high school students that will "contribute to their vibrant, diverse and successful programs and courses". Photo: BridgeU

Since its launch in 2015, BridgeU has partnered with counsellors and advisors at secondary schools in over 300 cities across 120 countries to help schools streamline and manage their guidance programs and to help students “make more informed post-secondary plans and decisions”.

“The education sector has rapidly evolved over the past decade”

In the last 18 months, BridgeU has signed up more than 40 higher education partners spanning seven countries, and has added a series of solutions to connect universities with BridgeU schools via virtual visits, as well as sharing personalised content and unique offers.

Venture capital firm Octopus Ventures has previously funded the company’s expansion.

As part of the company’s next phase, BridgeU was “seeking a long-term strategic partner to help us accelerate our vision”, founder and CEO Lucy Stonehill explained.

“Kaplan’s extensive global infrastructure will allow us to hire the best local talent in key regional hubs to be closer to our customers,” she noted.

“And, Kaplan’s strong customer relationships will help accelerate our school and university partnerships globally.”

Students use the platform over a 24-36 month period to explore and research career pathways and post-secondary opportunities, before preparing and submitting applications to universities around the world.

The BridgeU platform allows students to build unique academic profiles, and recommends “best-fit” universities and courses, while school advisors and counsellors manage university and careers guidance provision and to guide students’ post-secondary planning efforts.

“BridgeU’s unique operating model, partnering with schools in the design and delivery of world class university and careers guidance services, means that it can impact students at a truly unique scale,” added senior vice president of Kaplan Andrew Thick, who leads the higher education division of Kaplan, Kaplan International Pathways.

“Kaplan’s mission is to help individuals to achieve their career and education goals. We are excited to welcome BridgeU, a company with an incredible global footprint and an ambitious and talented team, to the Kaplan family.”

The agreement – which was approved in March 2020 – saw Octopus Ventures and other investors exit from their investment in BridgeU.

“The education sector has rapidly evolved over the past decade, with edtech playing a pivotal role in this process,” Zoe Chambers, principal at Octopus Ventures, noted.

“We have entered a period of greater change due to Covid-19, which has accelerated global demand for solutions that allow for remote provision of educational services.”

Octopus Ventures remains “confident that BridgeU will build on its impressive growth over the past six years as part of the Kaplan network, and continue to deliver quality services for students, secondary schools and universities alike”, she added.

report BridgeU released in January suggested recruiters in the US can capitalise on targeted recruitment efforts, despite a “prevailing narrative” that the global health pandemic has negatively impacted the country’s standing with international students.

“In addition to supporting international schools with the design and delivery of their global guidance programs, BridgeU also helps universities to discover and engage the high schools and students that will contribute to their vibrant, diverse and successful programs and courses,” Stonehill continued.

The mass movement of learners online has reinforced the importance of digital platforms and the ways in which institutions can maintain service and support through the use of technology, she added.

BridgeU has a “particularly unique opportunity to help write the story of how 2020 reshaped and reconfigured the global student recruitment and admissions space,” Stonehill explained.

“Higher education recruitment and admissions teams have long relied on offline tactics and in-market local partners to reach prospective applicants.

“The innovations that BridgeU and others are bringing to market will ultimately result in better outcomes”

“We believe that the innovations that BridgeU and others are bringing to market will ultimately result in better outcomes and greater efficiencies for universities as well as – and most importantly – more meaningful and modern ways to engage students where they are and on their terms in the digital communities where those students currently exist.”

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