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California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

Private Equity Steps Into the International-Student Market

01/17/2013

THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION.  JANUARY 16, 2013.  One more sign that colleges and companies see the financial possibilities of the international-student market: A British company that helps to bring students from China and other countries to campuses in the United States and other English-speaking nations has announced an investment of more than $100-million from a private-equity firm.

The seven-year-old company, INTO University Partnerships, is known for the “pathways” programs it runs at Oregon State University and 15 other colleges and universities. INTO will distribute some of the investment, from Leeds Equity Partners, to its private shareholders and use the rest to help expand its business.

With this infusion of money, Leeds Equity will own 25 percent of INTO. Leeds Equity also owns stakes in the Education Management Corporation and EduK Group, a company that owns colleges in Puerto Rico and other Hispanic markets.

Jeffrey T. Leeds, the private-equity firm’s president and co-founder, said the investment in INTO did not represent a shift in direction but a sign of the growing importance of international markets. “We think it is a growth area as a lot of countries develop larger middle classes,” he said on Tuesday.

Gaston Caperton, formerly head of the College Board and, before that, governor of West Virginia, is an adviser to Leeds Equity and will be working closely with INTO, Mr. Leeds said.