Manipal University has set itself a new task — to establish five large universities in India in the next five years. While the ones in Jaipur and Bangalore will take shape soon, the group is looking at setting up two more in the eastern and western regions of the country. That's a big leap from the two universities it has in India at present.
Manipal is also looking at increasing its global footprint. In addition to the three universities and two medical colleges abroad, it is planning to set up two more universities — one each in Sri Lanka and Africa.
The ambitious plans shouldn’t be a surprise for a group which had gone off the beaten track much ahead of the others in the area of corporate training. The company recently added banks such as Kotak Mahindra, Axis and Bank of Baroda to create employable workforce for them. It is now looking at creating similar corporate training academies for the manufacturing sector, insurance, consumer services, etc.
“We start with one area, implement it and then go on to other areas. In the last four years, we have done detailed amount of work with ICICI Bank which we took to other banks also, recently. We have the ability and the capability to structure and create programmes for which companies are approaching us. We are in talks with other companies to give them a similar experience,” adds says Anand Sudarshan, MD and CEO, Manipal Global Education Services (MaGES).
Manipal Global Education Services (MaGES) is the corporate entity of the Manipal group. MaGES gets 60 per cent of its total revenue from Manipal’s international higher education operations — primarily from its four institutes in Antigua, Malaysia, Nepal and Dubai. Other than this, U21 Global, an online graduate school that offers globally recognised postgraduate programmes, also contribute significantly.
The group has acquired 140 acres of land in Dubai and will be moving into the new campus shortly. Manipal University, Dubai, is a full-fledged multi-disciplinary university. The campus is enhancing itself to attract students not only from the UAE region but also from the Middle East and North Africa. Dubai and Nepal campuses are MaGES’ 100 per cent subsidiary.
“The focus for MaGES for the next year will be on new projects of this kind — existing services business providing student services, testing and assessment services as well as the new campuses that we have built,” says Sudarshan, adding that there are several new strategies that are being evolved over the next 12 months many of which will get launched by academic year July 2013.
The American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine which Manipal acquired in 2008 and has spent around Rs 150 crore, received recognition from the Medical Board of California last July. Last year, the college moved from a three intake system to a two intake a year system. Sudarshan describes these as a big deal saying no one has done anything like this before.
“We decided on this in October 2010. There were two significant reasons for this. In a three intake system, the semester time for students gets compressed. We felt that medical education being what it is, for us it is important to provide for better academic outcomes. It will also allow students more time to understand the context behind what they learn,” said Sudarshan.
In Malaysia MaGES has spent over Rs 200 crore on its Melaka Campus, a medical school. It is building another university in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. Over the next five years the group plans to spend Rs 500 crore on its Malaysian ventures alone.
In Dubai the institute has already spent about Rs 150 crore and plans to spend another Rs 100 crore in the next three years.
But with such investments lined up how will the group finance its big plans, given the fact that it has postponed its plan for an initial public offering?
“We may be expanding, but we do not plan to finance these via the initial public offering. Our international universities are doing well and we do not need the funds urgently. While our domestic universities will get seed fund from Manipal University and will also borrow long term funds from banks. MaGES will look at international universities,” said Ranjan Pai, MD & CEO, Manipal Education and Medical Group.
Sudarshan adds that the group’s both domestic and international businesses of the group are doing well: “We do not need funds now. We have made a beginning with a number of new projects over the last 12 to 24 months. Over the next 12 months our efforts would be to make sure these projects stabilise.”
The total revenue of MaGES is approximately Rs 1100 crore. Of this, revenue from domestic operations is about 40 per cent. This includes revenue from distance education services, corporate education and training, vocations skills, training and assessment.
Manipal’s IRize initiative which looks at setting up job and skill centres in partnership with educational institutions, local partners and the government to provide right job for candidates and productive workforce for corporates or businesses, plans to set up close to 1000 employment exchanges across the country in the next five years — creating over 1.5 million jobs.
“None of our businesses are in a shape which is of concern to us. We are doing well and going strong,” says Sudarshan, while explaining the four private equity investments the group has attracted so far.