Why higher ed mergers and acquisitions have slowed

Merger and acquisition activity has declined by 37% through September
By: | October 26, 2020
(GettyImages/FatCamera)

Trade schools and institutions with nursing and computer science programs were attractive to investors this year though COVID and the election have slowed merger and acquisition activity in higher ed, a report said.

While merger and acquisition activity has declined by 37% through September, compared to 2019, the 27 transactions were driven by schools seeking “defensive synergies to stabilize finances amid COVID-19 impacts,” according to Capstone Headwaters’ Post-Secondary Education October Update.

Higher ed could see near-term growth as enrollment tends to climb during periods of high unemployment, the report said.

Nursing appears to be one of the prime areas of potential growth. Approximately 500,000 registered nurses are expected to retire within the next two years, and the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 1.1 million new nurses are needed to meet demand, the report said.


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Another 117,700 new nurse practitioner positions, which require a master’s degree, will be created by 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, two-thirds of nursing schools reported reaching enrollment capacity, resulting in the rejection of more than 80,000 qualified applicants to associate and graduate nursing programs last year, the report said.

Not surprisingly computer science will be another area of high-growth as the COVID pandemic has forced rapid technology adoption in all industries.

U.S. computer and information technology jobs—76% of which require some level of postsecondary degree—will grow by 11% (530,000 new positions) by 2029.

Cybersecurity jobs, with a median salary of more than $99,000, should see the steepest increase, at 31%.

Many schools have launched new IT programs, including an executive master of science in IT administration at Alderson Broaddus University; a master of science in IT management at Belhaven University; a master of science in cybersecurity at Fairfield University; and an online master of science in cybersecurity at Rider University.


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