Mar 3, 2024 – Big business in education

Published by rudy Date posted on March 3, 2024

HIDDEN AGENDA – Mary Ann LL. Reyes – The Philippine Star
March 3, 2024 | 12:00am

Improved facilities, better pay for teachers and other staff members and employees, improvement in the quality of education being received by students, stronger sports programs.

These are but some of the observations that have been made after big business entities acquired ownership of some of the biggest educational institutions in the country.

Owning and operating a school is not a joke. It does not make as much money as other businesses that these business moguls have. It might even be a losing proposition considering that private schools cannot just increase fees without scaring students and parents into transferring to other schools.

But why do they still do it?

Back in 1990, business taipan Lucio Tan acquired the University of the East, which at the time was deep in debt exceeding around $2 million. Tan considered the acquisition as his biggest feat and had since then heavily invested in promoting quality education in the country through UE.

In 2009, mall magnate Henry Sy Sr. gained control of the then 108-year-old National University (NU) in Sampaloc, Manila. The Sy family bought a 60 percent stake in the country’s first private non-sectarian school from the family of its late founder Mariano Jhocson.

Sy then explained that the acquisition of NU was part of the family’s socio-civic role in society. Aside from NU, the Sys own a minority stake in Far Eastern University which is controlled by the Montinola family.

Since then, NU has expanded, opening branches in Laguna, Mall of Asia, Fairview, Bulacan and Cavite. The long-term plan for the SM Group is to build NU branches in different locations in the country, especially in areas where SM Prime, which has 74 malls in the Philippines, is present.

Other taipans have also added education to their portfolios.

The Phinma Group of businessman Ramon del Rosario Jr., through Phinma Education, owns several schools, including University of Pangasinan, Saint Jude College, Republican College, Rizal College of Laguna, Union College of Laguna, Araullo University, University of Iloilo, Southwestern University, Cagayan de Oro College and Horizon Education Indonesia.

Phinma Education Holdings, under the conglomerate Phinma Corp., started investing in the education services sector in 2004 through the acquisition of Araullo University in Nueva Ecija. Since then it has become a fast-growing network of 10 educational institutions serving over 144,000 students in the Philippines and Indonesia.

According to Phinma, it seeks to provide quality tertiary education to underserved Filipino youth. Phinma Corp. chairman and CEO del Rosario said these are underserved, first generation students who are able to pursue dignified lives and make the lives of others better too.

It was in 1999 when the Yuchengco Group of Companies purchased Mapua Institute of Technology, now Mapua University. In 2006, it opened the Malayan High School of Science, its wholly owned science highschool as well as the Malayan Colleges Laguna.

Then there is the Ayala business conglomerate which through AC Education Inc. (AEI)acquired 96 percent of the National Teachers College. AC Education also owns University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City.

The Ayala Group said that it is committed to investing in the education sector due to its critical role in building the nation. AEI also built the APEC Schools, the largest chain of stand-alone, private schools in the country.

Back in 2002, newspaper publisher Emilio Yap of Manila Bulletin and Manila Hotel, took control of Centro Escolar University.

Meanwhile, Manila Tytana Colleges serves as the educational arm of the Metrobank Group.

Tytana was first known as the Manila Doctors Hospital School of Nursing. In 1979, the Metrobank Foundation acquired control of the Manila Medical Services which owns the hospital in Manila.

In 1990, it was renamed Manila Doctors College and in 2010, it transformed into the Manila Tytana Colleges, after Dr. George Ty’s late mother Doña Victoria Ty-Tan (Doña Tytana).

And then just recently, STI Holdings, owner of the largest network of private schools in the Philippines, announced its decision to acquire the Philippine School of Business Administration (PSBA) in both Quezon City and Manila, as a strategic move aimed at bolstering business and entrepreneurship education in the country.

The board of STI Holdings has given the green light to a term sheet for the takeover of the 61-year-old PSBA, which includes operations of the 61-year-old school, as well as the acquisition of licenses, trademarks, trade names and school-related assets owned by PSBA.

According to STI Holdings president Monico Jacob, the decision comes in response to a noticeable shift in sentiment among Filipino Gen Zs, with an increasing number expressing a preference for entrepreneurship over traditional corporate career paths.

This inclination toward entrepreneurship among the younger generation is corroborated by a study conducted by PhilCare, a leading HMO and affiliate of STI Holdings, which revealed a strong desire among Filipino GenZs, millennials and Gen Xers to venture into business.

A separate survey, also commissioned by PhilCare, also showed that 53 percent of respondents from both the millennial and Gen X demographics expressed a strong preference for entrepreneurship over traditional employment.

STI Holdings VP for investor relations and Philcare president Jaeger Tanco emphasized that this trend underscores the importance of the education sector adapting to meet evolving demands, with entrepreneurship offering significant potential for economic growth and job creation.

STI Holdings owns STI Education Services Group, STI West Negros University and iACADEMY.

The acquisition of PSBA by STI Holdings, subject to regulatory approvals and final agreements, marks a significant expansion in the educational portfolio of the company, aligning with its commitment to provide quality education and meet the evolving needs of the workforce, the company said.

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