Stadio Holdings, the listed investment holdings company invested in private higher education institutions, entered a growth phase this year with its eye on widening access to education, while it has also set its sights on topping Unisa in distance education.
This was according to chief executive Chris Vorster, who spoke during the group’s virtual annual general meeting yesterday.
Stadio’s three investments, Stadio Higher Education, Milpark Education and AFDA, had focused on establishing and positioning the business from 2016 to 2020, while this year the group was consolidating and positioning to implement its growth strategy, with a target for sustainable growth in profit of more than 20 percent in the long term, with minimal capital requirements, he said.
“We achieved 8-9 percent growth in our student numbers over the past two years, but with very few new qualifications being made available at our institutions. The 33 new high demand academic programmes we have (in the pipeline), once populated at all our campuses and once we have staffed up, will see our students numbers pick up,” he said.
In relation to the group hoping to become the biggest distance-learning institution in the country, he said “we are already number two after Unisa”.
He said the group was also entering a phase where it would do site extensions, and take measures to optimise its existing campuses, where required.
He said the group aimed to have 56 000 students by 2026, and at May 30 this year it had 38 414 students.
“If we achieve the growth that I anticipate, I believe we will reach this 56 000 target before 2026,” Vorster said in an interview.
He said while they had been bedevilled by unavoidable delays in the government approval process of the new qualifications, it was all “in the works”. For example, the recent introduction of the new law faculty at just one campus resulted in an 84 percent increase in student numbers at that campus.
In the first semester group student numbers increased by 11 percent to 38 414 students as in comparison to June 30, 2021, with distance learning numbers increasing by 15 percent, and these numbers would rise with the second semester registrations.
“Of particular significance is that new students increased by 16 percent relative to June 2021, with contact learning students growing by 2 percent to 2 355 and distance learning by 19 percent to 11 137 students,” he said.