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Germany: Academic acquisitions

EducationWorld August 2023 | International News Magazine

A for-profit billed as Germany’s largest university, majority owned by a private equity firm, has bought a London banking education provider with UK degree-awarding powers as well as a Canadian university, as it expands an online model that features an AI “teaching and learning assistant”.

The sale of the London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) to IU International University of Applied Sciences was completed on March 31, but announced in June, just after IU announced it had also bought a Canadian online institution, the University of Fredericton.

IU, an online provider, describes itself as Germany’s “largest and fastest-growing university with more than 100,000 students”, and as “the first university worldwide to use ChatGPT-4 technology within its dialogue-based AI-powered teaching and learning assistant Syntea”.

The deal would give IU appeal to “students who are looking for a UK-accredited degree”, and LIBF “has a very good fit for our vision to democratise education” given its strong focus on “career education”, says Sven Schuett, the IU Group chief executive.

Asked whether IU is planning to shift the nature of LIBF’s course provision beyond finance, Dr. Schuett says: “We have already launched eight new degrees outside the relatively narrow focus of what LIBF has been doing.”

New online courses at LIBF “are focused on data and computer science, artificial intelligence and international business management — critical skills needed in finance and business today”, according to a press release on the sale.

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