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Tribal leader in overseas student surveys after i-graduate takeover

An outsourcing company has announced that it will buy i-graduate, a firm that surveys international students and agents, for up to £7.5 million.

Tribal Group, which entered takeover talks in 2011 after a collapse in its share price, said the acquisition would help it offer more data to customers in the education sector.

i-graduate, founded in 2005, is responsible for reports including the ICEF Agent Barometer, which surveys agents for international students across the globe about their perceptions of higher education in different countries.

It also owns the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, a body that also looks at trends in global higher education. The OBHE was founded by Universities UK and the Association of Commonwealth Universities but joined i-graduate in 2010.

i-graduate was founded by Will Archer, the chief executive, and Lindsay Archer, who co-own the business.

Mr Archer, who will continue to run the business, said: “Joining the Tribal Group will allow us to access the level of technical skills, platforms and support to allow us to accelerate the development of i-graduate’s products and services and enhance the insight and support we provide to educators worldwide.”

Tribal was involved in talks with the University of Warwick and five other unnamed universities in 2011 to pool IT and administrative functions to help the institutions save money.

However, it emerged in December that the discussions had collapsed because the plans were seen as too complex.

Tribal’s share price dropped to an all time low in 2010 amid fears it would be hit by cutbacks in the public sector, but remained independent after selling off its health and government division to outsourcing giant Capita in May 2011.

Its share price has since recovered, although not to levels seen before the financial crisis.

Tribal said that it expected to complete the buyout on 3 January 2013. The £7.5 million price tag is dependent on i-graduate’s financial performance.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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