For-profit Arden University has been sold to Global University Systems, becoming part of the same group as the University of Law, St Patrick’s College and the London School of Business and Finance.
Online distance-learning specialist Arden, which gained university title last year and changed its name from Resource Development International, was owned by US-based Capella Education Company until the sale to GUS, a company registered in the Netherlands.
The sale price has not been disclosed.
Aaron Etingen, founder and chief executive of GUS, said: “We look forward to working with Arden to build its offering of online and blended degree and master's programmes, to meet growing UK and international demand from employers and students for career-enhancing learning in the digital economy.”
Philip Hallam, vice-chancellor and chief executive of Arden University, said: “I am looking forward to working as part of GUS to realise our full potential to offer students in the UK and overseas a flexible and relevant university education.
“Although many things have changed over the past 25 years, our mission remains the same: to provide wider access to higher education, inspiring new ways to learn, and enriching people and their lives. GUS provides access to a global platform that will enable us to realise our ambitions.”
Matt Robb, managing director at Parthenon-EY, said Arden was “pushing hard” on blended learning.
He added: “My hypothesis is that around 20 per cent of the undergraduate market would prefer to learn in this format. Whether Arden has the brand and delivery model to capture this market is an open question, but it’s a fascinating bet.
“Allied to higher level apprenticeships, this [blended learning] is potentially much more challenging for the traditional sector than the availability of taught degree awarding powers [being expanded by the government].”
GUS bought the University of Law from Montagu Private Equity last year.
Earlier this year, GUS institution St Patrick’s was judged to have fallen short on two out of four UK quality expectations in a review by the Quality Assurance Agency.
Last year, the QAA judged that sub-degree qualifications at another GUS institution, LSBF, failed to meet standards.
In past years, the two institutions had been among the private colleges with the fastest-growing numbers of students claiming public-backed loans.