South Africa’s Advtech Group to enter healthcare

Published 10/04/2024

One of Africa’s largest international education groups are venturing into health education and training aimed at filling the gap created by increased demand for the health workers in South Africa.

The Advtech group, which owns over ten different brands with schools and colleges in Southern and Eastern Africa regions, will offer qualifications including in nursing for local and foreign students, with a focus on feeding foreign markets for healthcare workers including the UK and Australia, according to officials.

The company was aiming at prioritising nursing and related healthcare courses besides others in the broader health sector, noted former CEO Roy Douglas, saying that this could provide “good opportunities for young South Africans”.

Besides international markets, he noted that South Africa currently had a shortage of nurses, even as demand for people with nursing qualifications continues to expand in popular destinations for emigrants including Europe and North America.

“If we skill people, there is an opportunity for them to find employment locally or abroad. One in eight nurses is working in a different country from where they were trained.

“We could actually just start to open up the opportunity to train nurses. I think it represents a huge opportunity for everyone.” he said.

AdvTech is currently discussing the creation of a healthcare faculty with major multinational corporations, Douglas disclosed, adding that the company was not for a “fully-fledged medical school for doctor’s qualifications, as this would call for a substantial investment”, he added.

In 2018 Advtech acquired land in Nairobi’s 5,000-acre special economic zone known as Tatu City, where it set up a school under its Crawford International Schools brand-the Crawford International School-Kenya. The institution caters for kindergarten to A-level pupils, and will include boarding facilities for senior students.

“If we skill people, there is an opportunity for them to find employment locally or abroad”

The company described the move as part of its Africa expansion strategy, and meant to consolidate its position as the largest private education provider on the continent, with institutions ranging from nursery schools to private universities in South Africa, Botswana and Kenya.

Later in 2018 it partnered with Scholé Limited, which runs schools in southern and eastern Africa, further expanding its foothold on the continent by acquiring a controlling stake in Kenya-based Makini Schools. The deal included the US education and healthcare investment firm Caerus Capital LLC.

Some of the brands by Advtech include Crawford Schools, Trinityhouse and Varsity College, which operates campuses and offers distance-based learning in various fields, including degrees in Arts, Commerce, Law, Accounting, and Computer Science.

The news came as South African authorities announced the closure of a private college giant, the Education Investment Corporation Limited – also known as the Educor group.

In the wake of the closure, Advtech – through its higher education flagship, the Independent Institute of Education – announced it was ready to absorb the more than 13,000 students affected by the development.

The decision to close Educor, which owned more than 10 campuses across South Africa, reportedly came due to its failure to issue audited financial statements to authorities, and failure to comply with tax requirements since 2020.

Other problems cited included hiring “poorly qualified” staff, corruption and bribery, non-payment of staff salaries and general mismanagement.

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