If higher education is a matter of degrees, Laureate must be blazing hot. The company provides adult career education through online and campus-based programs in two dozen countries in Asia, the Americas, and Europe. Laureate Education's 55 institutions offer more than 130 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs and specializations to a combined enrollment of more than 600,000 students. It awards degrees in areas such as art, business, culinary arts, education, hospitality, law, engineering, and medicine. An investment group headed by chairman and CEO Douglas Becker (who skipped college and went straight into business) owns the company.
Laureate's M.O. is to aggressively expand its operations through acquisitions and build its collection of private universities around the world. While purchasing some institutions in full, Laureate also holds partnerships, partial ownership, and leasing arrangements. Over the past decade it has added a minimum of three and upwards of 15 new institutions each year.
To add prestige to its image, the company has bestowed honorary degrees to such well-known people as Nelson Mandela and named President Bill Clinton as honorary chancellor. Unlike traditional colleges and universities, faculty at Laureate institutions are generally not offered tenure.
It has also created "centers of excellence" pulled from its strongest programs and imported to other campuses. For example, its Glion Institute's hospitality and Les Roches culinary arts programs in Switzerland have been added to programs at institutions in China, Mexico, and the US. It operates similar programs in other fields, including health sciences, architecture, and art and design.
Laureate's expansion efforts are generally fairly evenly divided between growing in the US and internationally. In 2010 the company acquired two art and design schools in Italy, a private university in Brazil, as well as a multicultural learning center, the National Hispanic University, in San Jose, California.
Management took the company private in a leveraged buyout in 2007. According to its chairman, the move facilitated its expansion. – less