Over the past two decades, UK-based FindAUniversity has built relationships with every institution in the country, which Keystone says will be “really complementary” to its portfolio.

With more than 54 million unique prospective visitors each year, Keystone’s portfolio includes 420 websites across 33 languages and eight main higher education verticals.

The announcement comes as Keystone revealed it had simultaneously raised an additional USD$23 million in equity and debt funding, with the equity round lead by the Nordic venture firm Viking Venture.

Speaking with The PIE News, Keystone chief executive officer Erik Harrell said the company goal is to become the “best resource for students in the world for lifelong learning”, he continued, starting with bachelors programs up to PhD level.

“We know that which university you go to is one of the most important life changing decisions you make”

“FindAUniversity has a very strong position within the PhD studies area… I would say they’re leaders in the world,” he said.

“We know that which university you go to is one of the most important life changing decisions you make. And we want to be there for students to help them make the best decision they can,” he said.

FindAUniversity’s two primary websites – FindAMasters.com and FindAPhD.com – see over 14 million annual unique visitors, and the company assists 800 higher education institutions in 55 countries connect with suitable prospective students. Around a quarter of its audience is UK based.

“As well as providing larger student audiences to our customers, we now have the opportunity to offer students even more choices,” FindAUniversity co-founder Andy Pritchard said.

“We work with every UK university and we know there’s lots more we can do for those institutions,” Pritchard told The PIE in an exclusive interview, adding that Keystone is the ideal partner to enable the company to expand internationally.

“At the moment, our growth in international sales is 40% for the current year,” he said. “We think we can really ramp that up.”

FindAUniversity has “huge amounts of traffic” interested in studying in the US particularly in the PhD area, he added, which is an “obvious opportunity” with Keystone. “Keystone has very, very strong university customer base in the US,” he noted. The European market is also seeing strong growth, Pritchard indicated.

“The two businesses are really quite well established in the sector,” added FindAUniversity co-founder Andy Holliday.

“From the early stage talks we had, the cultural fit seemed like a good one,” he said, highlighting that FindAUniversity will continue to operate independently of Keystone.

“Keystone is a great cultural match for us and our 50-strong team and we’re very much looking forward to working together” Holliday explained. “We share a common mission to do everything we can to help students find the best higher ed institution for them.”

Keystone’s eight main higher education verticals include Masterstudies.com, Onlinestudies.com, Healthcarestudies.com, Bachelorstudies.com, MBAstudies.com, Lawstudies.com, Phdstudies.com and Academiccourses.com.

The agreement will offer partner higher education institutions “exposure to over 68 million unique student visitors each year”, Harrell added, and the expanded audience reach will mean “enhanced insights for higher ed institutions on the latest trends among prospective students”.

“We found that common customers were using both of us and getting good performance from both of us”

“Before we signed the transaction, we found that common customers were using both of us and getting good performance from both of us. We really feel that the broader audience reach [will be] good for them.

“They can get their brand in front of a complementary set of potential students,” he said.

Additionally, FindAUniversity will bring its physical events and fairs to the partnership.

“FindAUniversity is very strong with fairs and virtual fairs,” Pritchard said. During the global health pandemic the provider entered the virtual market – running seven virtual fairs so far, with four more scheduled.

“Opening up those fairs to Keystone’s student audience and also opening up the opportunity to exhibit those fairs to Keystone’s clientele is going to have a huge boost for both companies,” he said

When possible, physical events will return due to demand, Pritchard continued.

“Getting out there, meeting students face to face has a massive appeal because [educators can] get that feedback and that feel for the market by talking to students – that is really valuable to people in student recruitment.”

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