Historically, Keystone has been focused on lead generation and the move to acquire with UniQuest will provide more value to customers especially around enrolment generation, the company noted.

At the same time, Keystone hopes the move with help it further evolve into a “complete end-to-end lead-to-enrolment generation platform”.

The acquisition is the latest in a handful of buyouts and mergers in the past year, including EMG and acquisitions of FindAUniversity, College Scholarships USA, and AGM Education.

“We also have to be about helping customers drive enrolments and get a good return on investment”

“This is a game-changer in the student counselling and recruitment space, presenting a unique opportunity for Keystone to disrupt and innovate the existing traditional counselling and agency model that has prevailed for years,” Erik Harrell, Keystone’s CEO said in a statement.

“Combining UniQuest’s operations with Keystone’s recruitment services will enable us to offer extremely robust student recruitment, enrolment, and retention services to our 5,500 customer base, across our key geographic markets, including the US, the UK, and continental Europe.”

Speaking with The PIE, Harrell explained that the company could no longer “just be about lead generation”.

Keystone has extended its lead generation capabilities into domestic student recruitment during 2021, with particular domestic recruitment growth in the UK, the Nordics, France, and Germany.

“We also have to be about helping customers drive enrolments and get a good return on investment,” he said, a key part of which is Keystone Recruit, its enrolment & conversion service, launched earlier this year.

Keystone sees itself as a ‘house of brands’ and UniQuest will continue operating to help customers “face their enrolment challenges head-on and gain an edge over their competition with the help of our end-to-end global student recruitment, enrolment, and retention services”, Harrell continued.

UniQuest will also bring its “focused and deep expertise in student engagement to Keystone”, UniQuest CEO Rachel Fletcher explained.

“Combined with Keystone’s impressive global footprint and student reach, together we will be able to help more universities around the world reach their student recruitment goals, delivering unparalleled student support,” she said.

“The combination of our business with Keystone will help accelerate our ability to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions. Together, we are even more well-positioned to help institutions remain competitive by enabling them to provide best-in-class, flexible support to prospective and current students.”

Additionally, as UniQuest has moved “further down the funnel”, since being founded in 2013, into current student support, the partners hope to get a wider picture of the whole student journey, she told The PIE.

“A lot of what we do is about engaging with students via the right channel at the right time,” Fletcher explained, which will offer “even more really valuable insight”.

In eight years, UniQuest’s engagement with 1.2 million students has resulted in 80,000 enrolments on behalf of higher education institutions across the UK and US.

“We’ll find out not just about who’s turning up and enrolling, but who’s going on and succeeding”

“As we continue to dig into [our data] over the months and years, we’ll find out not just about who’s turning up and enrolling, but who’s going on and succeeding and we’ll be able to join that full circle with demand at the top,” Fletcher added.

“That really is a picture that that no one has the moment, and I think that is that’s really exciting.”

The combined data and insights will provide “enhanced predictive modelling and forecasting to our customer base, making improvements along the entire recruitment value chain”, Harrell added.

Every year, Keystone helps more than 110 million unique prospective students decide higher education degree program or course to attend.

Read analysis on how student recruitment has become more focused on conversion in The PIE Review here.

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