New Blog Will Track Private Equity’s ‘Thirst’ for Education Investments

With private investing funds increasingly eyeing—and buying into—the world of higher education, two researchers at the State University of New York decided it’s time college leaders better understood who those investors are and where they’re putting their money.

We want to know “what the thirst of private equity is” because its investments fuel the new companies that are playing a role in reshaping the academic landscape, says Mitch Leventhal, vice chancellor for global affairs at SUNY. “Why are we ignoring this phenomenon?”

In their first report on their new blog, Private Equity for Education, Mr. Leventhal and his co-author, Ina Tang, describe and categorize the investment interests of the 266 private-equity firms they identified that had publicly said they invested in education. Of the more than 500 companies receiving investments from those firms, 36 percent were institutions or schools, 24 percent were involved in educational technology, and 19 percent provided services

Mr. Leventhal, who also oversees SUNY’s Levin Institute in  Manhattan, an organization focused on improving New York State’s response to global competitiveness, says the more universities understand about private equity, the more they might be able “to signal” the field about areas where additional investment might be useful.

And if the project happens to send some signals about the institute itself, all the better. Says Mr. Leventhal: “We want to become the place entrepreneurship, institutions, and equity come together.”

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