Laureate International Universities

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Laureate International Universities
FounderDouglas L. Becker
AffiliationLaureate Education
Administrative staff
Baltimore, MD
CampusMore than 200 campuses and online
Laureate International Universities Logo.png
Laureate Education Inc
Traded asNASDAQLAUR (Class A)
Russell 2000 Component Edit this on Wikidata

Laureate International Universities are the for-profit universities and colleges owned and operated by Laureate Education, Inc. (NASDAQLAUR), of Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States. In 2018, the company owns and operates more than 200 programs, both campus-based and online, in 25 countries. Total student enrollment is more than 1 million students,[1] and Laureate Education employs 54,500 people as of 2017.[2]

Corporate history[edit]

Laureate Education was founded as a company by Douglas L. Becker. It was originally created by Sylvan Learning Systems in 1998 as an operational division to focus on post-secondary institutions and called Sylvan International Universities. When the division was created, Sylvan was a public company primarily focused on educational services for students in primary and secondary education through company owned and franchise locations.[3]

The company's first investment was Spain's Universidad Europea de Madrid in 1999, quickly followed by investments in post-secondary institutions in Mexico's Universidad del Valle de México, Chile's Universidad de las Américas and Switzerland's Les Roches International School of Hotel Management and its first investment in online higher education, Walden University in the United States.[4] The Universidad Europea de Madrid purchase was for $51 million.[5]

In March 2003, Sylvan Learning Systems decided to focus exclusively on post-secondary education.[6] The company sold the K-12 business units, as well as the Sylvan name and trademark, to a new company, Educate, Inc., formed by Apollo Management. In 2004, Sylvan changed its name to Laureate Education, Inc, to reflect the change in focus.[7]

In 2007, the company was acquired by an investor group led by Douglas Becker and Citigroup Private Equity.[8][9]

Between 2007 and 2015, Laureate made 41 acquisitions with a total purchase price of about $2.0 billion.[1] According to Laureate, a key to the company's growth was its expansion into Brazil, where Laureate owned 13 institutions with a total enrollment of about 281,000 students.[1] By 2010, the company owned more than 50 institutions, both campus-based and online, in 21 countries, with a total enrollment of about 550,000 students.[10]

In 2008 Universidad Tecnológica de México (UNITEC) was bought by Laureate Education, Inc. The campuses in Guadalajara and Monterrey became UVM campuses.

In 2010, former U.S. President Bill Clinton became the "honorary chancellor" of the network.[11] His compensation was undisclosed at the time, but subsequent reports indicate he has earned around $16.5 million from the company.[citation needed]

In January 2013, the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, made a $150 million equity investment in Laureate to expand access to quality higher education in emerging markets.[12][13]

In 2013, Laureate also bought Brazilian for-profit university chain FMU for $412 million. The chain was bought in anticipation of a growing middle-class in Brazil.[14]

Coursera, a provider of massive online open courses, announced in July 2013 that it raised $43 million in investments from a group that included Laureate Education, Inc., the World Bank's investment arm, LearnCapital Venture Partners, GSV Capital and venture capitalist Yuri Milner. [15]

Arizona-based Thunderbird School of Global Management announced a partnership with Laureate in March 2013 to set up a joint venture that would provide capital support to Thunderbird to open multiple international instruction sites and expand its executive education and online programs.[16] Four Thunderbird Board members resigned in protest.[17]

In December 2013, Laureate announced that its shareholders elected three independent directors: Robert B. Zoellick, former World Bank president;[18] Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation;[19] and George Muñoz, principal of the Muñoz Investment Banking Group.[20]

In 2015, Ernesto Zedillo, the former president of Mexico, was named a Presidential Counselor by Laureate.[21]

In 2016, Laureate sold its two Glion Institute of Higher Education campuses, four campuses of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management,[22] and five LIUF schools.[23] The total value of the Glion and Les Roches to Eurazeo was CHF 380 million.[22]

Laureate Education had an initial public offering on the NASDAQ on February 1, 2017, its share closed the first day down from its opening offering price.[24] The IPO stated that Laureate had grown to more than 1 million students and 200+ campuses in 28 countries, and the IPO was in part a response to a global demand for more higher education among a rapidly growing middle class.[1] They are only the third B Corp to go public, the first two being Etsy and Rally Software.[25]

In 2018, the US Department of Justice dropped charges related to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for an alleged bribe in Turkey.[26][27]

Relationship with Bill Clinton[edit]

Though former United States President Bill Clinton's role as a chancellor of Laureate was officially described as "honorary", from 2010 until early 2015, Bill Clinton was paid just short of $16.5 million for his role as honorary chancellor, including $2.5 million in 2011, when Hillary Clinton was still Secretary of State. These numbers were disclosed in his publicly released tax returns.[28][29][30]

In April 2015, Clinton ended his ties with Laureate amidst ongoing financial problems at four of its six U.S.-based universities.[31][32]

Clinton appeared at the Laureate Summit on Youth & Jobs at Universidad Europea de Madrid in 2013,[33] Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas in 2013,[34] Université Internationale de Casablanca in 2013,[35] European University Cyprus in 2012,[36] Universidad del Valle de México in 2012,[37] Walden University's 2011 commencement ceremony,[38] Istanbul Bilgi University in 2010[39] and INTI International University in 2010.[40]


Universities in the group teach various subjects at both undergraduate and graduate level. Subjects covered by some of its colleges include design,[41] business,[42] culinary and hospitality.[43]


According to the Washington Post, "Laureate is backed by several of the biggest names in finance, including Henry Kravis, George Soros, Steve Cohen and Paul Allen".[44] Laureate's annual revenue is approximately $4 billion.[44] The company holds $3.5 billion [45] to $4.7 billion in debt.[9] Moody's rated Laureate's corporate bonds as high-risk and characterized Laureate as highly leveraged.[46]

Laureate spends in excess of $200 million per year on advertising, including television commercials, online campaigns and billboards. There have been claims that "Laureate boosts revenue at struggling colleges by turbocharging enrollment, often without a parallel increase in academic investment."[44]

The Sylvan/Laureate Foundation was created in 1997 as a non-profit foundation to provide education, training and community support.[47]

Students from many of the network institutions have participated in the Clinton Global Initiative University, including students from Universidade Anhembi Morumbi, Universidade Potiguar, INTI International College, INTI International University, Universidad del Valle de México, Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Istanbul Bilgi University, Stamford International University, Walden University, Université Internationale de Casablanca, National Hispanic University, and Universidade Salvador.[48][49]


Laureate has schools in Turkey and Chile, even though for-profit schools are banned.[44] In Brazil, the Rio State Legislature's Investigative Commission on Private Universities issued a report criticizing for-profit colleges like Laureate for firing professors.[44]

Visits by world and business leaders[edit]

Many global business and government leaders have given speeches at Laureate International University network institutions.


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ "Laureate Education". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
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  11. ^ "Laureate Education lures Clinton as 'honorary chancellor'". The Baltimore Sun. 2010-04-26. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  12. ^ Redden, Elizabeth (2014-03-03). "World Bank affiliate invests $150 million in for-profit college provider". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  13. ^ Kilar, Steve (2013-01-23). "World Bank invests in Baltimore-based Laureate Education". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  14. ^ "Laureate Education Acquires Brazil's FMU For $412 Million - Career College Central". 23 August 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  15. ^ Melissa Korn (2013-07-10). "Online Education Startup Coursera Raises $43 Million - Digits". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  16. ^ Bradshaw, Della (2013-03-18). "Thunderbird ties knot with commercial education partner". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
  17. ^ "Thunderbird community split by school's plan". Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Robert B. Zoellick - Harvard - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs".
  19. ^ "Judith Rodin - The Rockefeller Foundation".
  20. ^ "MAR George Muñoz Insider Trades for Marriott International Inc".
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  22. ^ a b "Agreement between Laureate Education, Inc. and Eurazeo for the sale of Glion and Les Roches hospitalityUS management schools". Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Agreement reached between Laureate Education, Inc. and Apax Partners for the sale of Laureate's higher education interests in France. Bpifrance will co-invest alongside Apax Partners". Retrieved 19 March 2017.
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  32. ^ He left the post last April, weeks after Hillary Clinton announced her second presidential campaign.
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  34. ^ "Presidente Bill Clinton asistió a la inauguración oficial del Campus San Isidro de la UPC" [President Bill Clinton attended the official opening of the San Isidro Campus of the UPC] (in Spanish). Businessempresarial. Archived from the original on 2013-12-27. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  35. ^ "Edito: Clinton et Benkirane. L'avenir du Maroc est dans la tolérance et la modernité" [Editorial: Clinton and Benkirane. The future of Morocco is within tolerance and modernity] (in French). 2013-02-24. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
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  39. ^ ARIANA FERENTINOU (2010-10-03). "Clinton at Bilgi". Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
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External links[edit]