Stadio Holdings student numbers rise despite the tough economic environment

Chris Vorster, CEO of STADIO Holdings. SUPPLIED.

Chris Vorster, CEO of STADIO Holdings. SUPPLIED.

Published Jun 20, 2024


Stadio Holdings continues to grow, with student numbers increasing by 8% in the 12 months to end-June 2024, its shareholders learnt at the annual general meeting yesterday.

With investments in Stadio Higher Education, Milpark Education and AFDA, the total number of students increased from 42 874 to 46 300, with distance learning students up by 8% from 37 067 to 40 017 and contact learning students by 8% from 5 807 to 6 283.

The percentage of students making use of distance learning amounted to 86% and 14% was via contact learning.

Speaking in a virtual AGM and business update yesterday, Stadio’s CEO, Chris Vorster, said they were pleased with the overall growth of 8% in student numbers given the difficult environment in which it was achieved.

“If we exclude the B2B business at Milpark Education, we see a remarkable 15% increase in total student numbers, with a second semester intake under way,” he said,

He said that of more significance, however, was the 8% growth in contact learning students, which the group’s management attributed to their contact learning strategy at Stadio Higher Education and “affirming the decision to begin construction on Stadio Durbanville comprehensive campus”.

Growth in new contact learning students at Stadio Higher Education in the year to June 2024 amounted to 14%, with overall student growth at the Stadio Centurion comprehensive campus at a strong 52% growth.

The latest growth in student numbers meant the target of 56 000 students by 2026 was within reach, and the group was positioning itself for more than 100 000 students in time, with an EBITDA margin of 30% and return on equity of 20% as a longer-term target, said Vorster.

He said Stadio was a highly cash-generative business with a strong balance sheet from which to grow.

“We are still in a growth phase with the optimisation of our current campuses and staff and the construction of a second comprehensive campus in Durbanville, Cape Town, to commence later in the year. This follows our first comprehensive campus in Centurion, Gauteng,” Vorster said.

He said Durbanville would be Stadio Higher Education’s “showroom” in the Western Cape, with construction starting this year, subject to final municipal approvals.

Phase 1 would cost R220 million and be 50% funded from cash resources and 50% long-term debt. Stadio’s Bellville campus would relocate to the Stadio Durbanville campus from June 2025.

As the Bellville campus was already a multi-school campus, offering a range of programmes, the Durbanville campus would open with a comprehensive programme offering. It was expected to open for new students in January 2026 with about 1 000 students.

Vorster said the building of the Durbanville campus would not hinder current dividend payouts.

The group currently offers 87 certificated programmes to students with 37 in development awaiting accreditation. This year, 14 qualifications were accredited and would be available to offer from 2025. Accreditation was with the same regulators as public universities.

“Our ultimate goal is to be the higher education institution of choice, an alternative to all public universities as well as an alternative to Unisa,” Vorster said.