As the sun sets on another transformative year, it is time to reflect upon the dynamic landscape of Singapore’s private education industry. The year 2023 has been a pivotal chapter in the story of Singapore’s private education industry, a narrative marked by changes, resilience, innovation, and transformation. As the founder of EduValue, I believe our teams have been fortunate to collaborate with nearly 50 Private Education Institutions (PEIs) across various domains, including Compliance, Quality Assurance, Mergers and Acquisitions, and numerous initiatives aimed at enhancing Singapore’s private education sector.
I aim to provide a summary from the macroeconomic standpoint of the industry, encompassing various changes, along with outlining some of our Group’s strategies for ongoing innovation in catering to this industry segment. Notable highlights from 2023 encompass: –
- The transition from EduTrust Guidance Document Version 3.0 to Version 4.0 marked a significant change. Given the uncertainties introduced by the new regulations, EduValue’s research team collaborated closely with our associates to ensure the smooth implementation of GD4.0 across all our clients. Our teams diligently worked on over 10 document submissions and EduTrust Site Assessments during the last quarter of 2023. Despite the successful renewal of 4-year EduTrust statuses for our Clients, I anticipate substantial challenges ahead, resembling the scenario during the transition from EduTrust GD2.0 to GD3.0, with a potential increase in downgrades from EduTrust 4 Years to 1 Year.
- There has been a remarkable surge in the volume of transactions within the Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) segment for Private Education Institutions (PEIs). This surge notably involves the acquisition of several Singapore PEIs by new foreign owners, primarily driven by the growing number of foreign students in Singapore’s Private Education Sector and its overall appeal. As a consequence of these developments, many PEIs that underwent transactions in the past 12 months experienced downgrades from a 4-Year EduTrust status to a 1-Year EduTrust. EduValue has also observed a rise in the number of new clients seeking assistance for Ad-Hoc EduTrust Audits in light of these changes. While we actively engage in scaling up our M&A projects, our commitment to prioritizing our existing clientele and focusing on our own M&A initiatives has meant that we were unable to aid with numerous new projects.
- There has been a rise in the issuance of compliance warnings to Private Education Institutions (PEIs), including prominent big names, concerning both the ERF and EduTrust. EduValue has experienced a surge in inquiries from such clients seeking assistance in addressing compliance issues. This trend underscores a broader scenario wherein compliance has become a substantial challenge for not only smaller PEIs but also for larger and more established institutions.
In the midst of the advancements, transformations, and accomplishments of the past year, both our Group and, to a greater extent, the industry encountered challenges that prompted introspection and refinement. Central to our strategic priorities is the imperative to elevate compliance and fortify quality assurance endeavours. EduValue is committed to allocating resources towards researching, developing, and implementing new initiatives aimed at both reducing compliance costs and addressing issues proactively. These initiatives for Year 2024 will include: –
- EduValue, operating through our training division EV Academy, is set to launch comprehensive training courses covering both ERF and the EduTrust Certification. Our objective is to enhance and fortify the compliance and Quality Assurance functions within the industry, benefiting both EduValue clients and entities outside our client base. Recognizing the absence of adequate training and certifications in this domain, our aim is to revolutionize how Private Education Institutions (PEIs) bolster their internal capabilities, ultimately contributing to a reduction in compliance costs.
- Leveraging insights gained from overseeing an average from 30 to 50 EduTrust Assessments annually, our research teams will focus on reviewing and refining systems for EduTrust GD4.0 in the coming 12 months. This strategic approach aims to incorporate valuable lessons learned from the assessments we handle. The goal is to mitigate and, ideally, reverse the trend of downgrades experienced during the transition from GD2.0 to GD3.0.
- In response to the rapid ascent of technology, our Group is committed to substantial investments in digital systems. These initiatives, coupled with internal compliance measures, seek to potentially decrease compliance costs while concurrently strengthening internal compliance capabilities for both EduValue and PEIs. Ongoing test-bed initiatives involve collaboration with several PEIs, and we aspire to extend these advancements to more PEIs in the near future.
As we say goodbye to 2023, the private education sector in Singapore serves as a testament to the influence of adaptability, innovation, and collaboration. As the founder of EduValue, I take pride in being a part of this transformative journey. The past twelve months have not only strengthened the resilience of educational institutions but have also established them as agents of positive change and I look forward to a good 2024.
Barry; Founder of EduValue and EV Education Group