Universidad Europea acquired, eyes new regions

Published 09/04/2024

A Swedish private equity group has acquired the Universidad Europea, saying it wants to support investment in existing campuses and “establishing other ones in new regions”.

Universidad Europea, which operates through 12 campuses across the Iberian Peninsula of Spain and Portugal, currently comprises a network of 54,000 students and 130,000 alumni.

Referring to the Spanish and Portuguese education markets as “tightly regulated and resilient”, the announcement noted they are expected to grow in the coming years through demographic trends.

Particularly, students in Latin America are seeing Spain as an increasingly attractive destination for pursuing higher education.

Europe has also expressed more interest in Spain in recent years, with a record number of neighbouring European countries sending students there in the 2021/22 academic year.

Portugal also hit a record number of international students enrolled in the 2021/22 academic year, with almost 75,000.

Permira, the equity company which has up until recently had the majority stake in the university, will retain a minority stake in the business, the statement said.

“With Permira as our trusted partner, we’ve achieved remarkable success over the past four years. Together, we have strengthened the quality of our academic model for our students and embarked on ambitious expansion initiatives, including the establishment of new campuses and infrastructures,” said Otilia de la Fuente, CEO of UE.

“Joining forces with EQT, alongside Permira, allows us to continue our journey of innovation and growth, furthering our mission of changing lives through higher education,” de la Fuente continued.

EQT said it would draw upon its “local presence and international expertise to support” UE in establishing campuses in new regions.

It will also support UE by using its digital team to enhance the institution’s “online proposition for students seeking access to hybrid and remote learning models”, the announcement added.

“We are excited to contribute our local knowledge to help deliver a strong academic proposition for students”

“We are excited… [to contribute] our expertise owning essential infrastructure assets, our responsible ownership principles and our local knowledge to help deliver a strong academic proposition for students seeking access to high quality education services,” said EQT’s head of Spain, Asís Echániz.

Anna Sundell, who also works as part of EQT’s Value-Add Infrastructure Advisory team, said EQT has followed UE for a long time and is encouraged by the “high quality academic model”.

“We are deeply impressed by the… innovative approach and establishment of new state-of-the-art campuses in both Spain and Portugal,” Sundell noted.

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