Covid-19 created opportunity for Galileo to acquire Regent’s University

Regent’s will join Galileo’s network of 42 institutions over 80 campuses across 13 countries around the world – including the Paris School of Business, Strate School of Design and Atelier de Sèvres in France. 

“For Galileo, being in the UK market is clearly of importance”

Executives at both Regent’s and Galileo told The PIE News that the takeover has come in part as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and that the new partnership will provide Regent’s with investment and support to accelerate its development. 

While the acquisition is set to provide long-term investment for the university, sources have told The PIE that as part of a restructuring program some 83 staff members will lose their jobs. Regent’s says that this restructuring of the university does not have anything to do with the acquisition. 

For Galileo, being in the UK market is clearly of importance. This is something we’ve been looking for, for a number of years and didn’t find the right opportunity. UK universities in the world of higher education, are great brands that can be exported,” said Galileo’s CEO Northern Europe & Group Development, Bruno Mourgue d’Algue.

“We decided to acquire Regent’s because it had several features that are very close to what we’re doing. First, there’s a combination of business management and courses for creative industries and this has been a hallmark of Galileo’s strategy from the start. 

“Secondly, we found a great leader in Geoff Smith and the team around him. So that was really important for us to drive, the university going forward,” he said.

Mourgue d’Algue said that Galileo will help Regent’s team to accelerate growth by adding new courses, new content and developing pathways with other universities. 

“The situation of Covid-19 created the opportunity that may not have been there otherwise,” he added. 

Regent’s student body comprises 81% international students from 140 countries, making it “one of the very most internationally diverse universities in the UK”, according to vice-chancellor & CEO of Regent’s, Geoff Smith.

Smith acknowledged the part that Covid-19 has played in the acquisition, but stressed the real opportunity for Regent’s will be around long-term investment.

“The acquisition by Galileo is really about the long-term. Of course it gives reassurance in the short-term but it is really about the long-term sustainability of Regent’s University of London. 

“Galileo, their primary investors and shareholders are very much long-term themselves. They’ve never sold a school yet,” he said. 

“They are an educational player themselves, so that long-term horizon very much chimed with our own need to secure the long-term sustainability of Regent’s. So, yes the acquisition has happened in the time of a pandemic, but it is really about long-term growth and sustainability,” Smith added. 

While Smith stressed that the acquisition would benefit the university, some have expressed concern around changes at the institution. 

A source who did not want to be named told The PIE that 83 of some 464 total posts are to be lost in a complete restructure of all professional services at the institution. 

When The PIE asked Regent’s to confirm this number, a university spokesperson said that “like many within the higher education sector, Regent’s has suffered financially as a result of the pandemic”. 

Accordingly, the university has proposed some changes to our operational structure. These remain just proposals at this time,” the spokesperson added. 

“[The restructure] is accelerated by the difficult circumstances that we all find ourselves in”

Smith explained that there were plans to restructure Regent’s academic and professional services before the pandemic as part of an initiative called The People’s Project. 

“We are still very much going on with that project. Covid-19 has to some degree accelerated it, but actually that change agenda was already in train. 

“So it is certainly not as a result of the Galileo acquisition. But it is accelerated by the difficult circumstances that we all find ourselves in,” Smith said. 

Galileo’s Mourgue d’Algue said that it will continue to monitor the UK market for schools that could be added to the group’s portfolio. 

“We’re always looking and we are acquisitive by nature. Galileo has been built from the ground up. The way we function is that we serve and help the institutions that serve the students and we help them accelerate their growth and deliver more for their students,” he said. 

“This is what it’s all about. And we will continue to look for good brands that can benefit from being part of the group and that can be strengthened by the network effect as well,” he added.  

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