Our Competitive Advantages
We believe we are well positioned to compete in the Brazilian higher education market, especially in the Northeast and North regions, mainly due to following factors:
Unique positioning in areas with a great potential for growth
We believe we are the largest private organization in the higher education sector operating in the Northeast of Brazil, in terms of units, with 49 MEC-accredited units in the region on December 31, 2022. We also have a strong presence in the North region, with 23 additional accredited units, including two higher education institutions with a course in Medicine, in the cities of Cacoal (RO) and Vilhena (RO). We believe we are the company with the strongest capillarity in the sector in these regions, with units located in all states.
In January 2022, the Company completed the acquisition of Centro Universitário UNIFAEL. With more than 600 Digital Learning centers, the union with Ser Educacional will create a network of more than 1,000 active Digital Learning centers, giving us national reach in a total student base that surpassed the mark of 295,200 students on December 31, 2022.
Value creation, financial performance and growth
We implemented several efforts in recent years to improve the operations of our units, as well as their results and profitability. In 2014, we launched a Shared Services Center (SSC) with a relevant idle capacity in order to allowing us to increase our student base at very low marginal costs. In 2016, we launched our new distance learning operations center, located in Recife. We believe this facility will give us the ability to absorb and act centrally in relation to all future projected needs for our distance learning operations.
As of 2020, we started to operate under the concept of a continuing education ecosystem, which aims to create avenues for generating value through the combined offer of courses in Hybrid Teaching and Digital Learning, enabling our campuses to carry out an increasingly omnichannel offer, acquiring and creating companies that allow us to offer new educational and related services in order to increase the return on our educational assets.
Starting in 2021, we implemented our new teaching methodology, Ubíqua, which aims to offer a ubiquitous education concept, using active teaching methodologies through a cutting-edge technological platform that allows students to have a differentiated teaching experience, whatever the chosen educational modality (on-campus, hybrid, digital) or certification mode (undergraduate, graduate or continuing education) with modern content and high flexibility of creation and new courses and distribution model.
Business model with high scalability, replicability and standardization of operations
We believe we can expand our operations through acquisitions, generating significant efficiencies, as well as from our scalable business model that can absorb more units and students at a reduced incremental cost. Since our Initial Public Offering in December 2013, we have acquired and integrated more than 20 institutions. On average, all the systems of these acquired companies were integrated into ours, including the adaptation of their curriculum framework into our model within six months after the acquisition. Our operational efficiency, obtained through the implementation of pioneer control instruments in the education sector such as efficient classroom management, standard processes and pedagogical plans, together with the intensive use of technology, enables us to add new units, courses and students quickly and efficiently, without compromising our profitability. Our unified educational project allows us to effectively control the quality and consistency of our educational practices, disseminating these practices and delivering standard and better educational content throughout our educational network. Our administrative activities are concentrated in our Shared Service Center, which allow us to efficiently implement our expansion plan and generate gains in scale. This model has helped us increase the quality and efficiency levels of our internal processes, supporting growth at low incremental costs. We believe this structure enables us to expand our operations organically and through acquisitions, generating significant efficiencies from our scalable business model and standardized processes. In addition to inorganic growth opportunities, we also believe we are operationally prepared for the organic growth of our on-campus operations and our digital learning platform.
Differentiated value proposition for students
We believe potential students choose their higher education institution based on a combination of four main factors:
(i) Brands with strong appeal in their respective regions: we have strong regional brands that are highly recognized by the target audience and the job market for their educational excellence. Grupo Ser Educacional brands are considered Top of Mind in eight cities in the Northeast, North and Southeast regions. Our “Maurício de Nassau” brand has a high recall rate in the higher education industry in the Northeast and North regions, being the most mentioned higher education brand in the State of Pernambuco and one of the most recognized in the other northeastern states, according to surveys conducted by the Company. We believe these results are associated with the quality of our education. UNINASSAU Recife has, for 12 years, been the most remembered brand in the item Higher Education Institution according to the Recall Brand Award from Jornal do Commercio, in addition to reaching relevant brand recall positions in João Pessoa, Maceió, Natal, Fortaleza and Salvador. In the North region, UNAMA Santarém has been the most remembered brand for the VOX Empresarial award for five years. UNAMA Belém is on the list of the 20 best institutions for exchanging in the country, while UNINORTE is the most remembered institution in Manaus and has the 10 best courses in Amazonas.
Furthermore, such positioning observed in our brands strengthens the demand for our courses, contributes to our marketing efforts and influences our ability to attract and retain good professionals in the regions where we operate.
(ii) Physical and technological infrastructure offered by the institutions: renovated buildings with classrooms equipped with air-conditioning, wi-fi and audiovisual equipment, in addition to modern laboratories. Furthermore, we also have a strong technological infrastructure, with an Academic Portal on a digital platform so that our students and teachers can monitor their academic life with access to several information, such as the electronic class register, collegiate tests, financial agreements with us, online applications, enrollment in a new semester, among others;
(iii) Differentiated curriculum matrix: Ubíqua offers a ubiquitous educational model that offers education using active teaching methodologies through a state-of-the-art technological platform that allows students to have a differentiated teaching experience whatever the chosen educational modality (on-campus, hybrid digital) or certification mode (undergraduate, graduate or continuing education) with modern content and high flexibility of creation and new courses and distribution model;
(iv) Creation of an educational ecosystem: we have started to invest in the creation of new formats for the distribution of courses, which included the creation of new undergraduate and graduate formats, which were called digital courses. These courses allow accelerated graduation of students, creation of a wider range of courses, offer of undergraduate and graduate degrees with double certification in partnerships with international educational institutions and companies. Another aspect of this ecosystem is the creation of new forms of commercialization such as the creation of the online sales portal GoKursos (www.gokursos.com.br) which, in addition to our undergraduate and graduate courses already known in the market, now offers free courses and a continuing education model where students can take as many courses as they like for a fixed monthly payment.
In 2021, we launched the first fintech focused on serving the continuing education segment, b.Uni (www.buni.digital), which will be an important pillar in the ecosystem, as it will allow us to offer new financial services and generate ancillary revenues for the Company. In March 2022, we launched Peixe30 (www.peixe30.com), a social network focused on the new generation of professionals, more dynamic, modern and humanized, which aims to promote networking, visibility and opportunities, free of charge, both for users and for companies. At Peixe30, people can introduce themselves to the market and “sell their fish” by recording videos of up to 30 seconds. One of the platform‘s differentials is the assessment tool, which maps the user‘s behavioral profile using the DISC methodology, that is, soft skills, in addition to automatically generating the curriculum in web or PDF format after filling in the data by part of the user. Peixe30 exceeded the mark of 400 thousand users in less than a year of launch.
The development of its continuing education ecosystem, throughout 2022, showed significant growth in the representativeness of the Company’s ancillary revenues (recorded in other revenues) in the net revenue, with growth of 122.8% when compared to the previous year, now representing 3.4% of net revenue in 2022, compared to 1.8% in 2021. This evolution demonstrates that these initiatives are gradually gaining importance and should become more relevant in the Company’s operations, as they develop.
(v) Prime location and easy access for students. This is a key factor for determining a potential student’s choice of an educational institution and our units are strategically located in major capital cities and metropolitan areas in the Northeast, North and Southeast regions, usually close to our target audience’s workplaces or homes, as well as in easily accessible areas with local infrastructure that are convenient for students. This characteristic increased the higher perceived value of both on-campus and digital learning courses among our target audience, as students enrolled in distance learning courses must periodically go to the units. We believe that combination of factors has a significant impact on the value perceived by students. Since location is a key factor in the success of an educational company, we will evaluate options that enable us to secure the best properties in the cities where we operate and, at the same time, obtain appropriate returns. We also understand that our units are a decisive factor for the growth and expansion of our Digital Learning due to the fact that we have centers for such a service that students must periodically attend.
Quality teaching and cost-effectiveness
The structure we developed has allowed us to offer quality education to our students at a more competitive price than our main competitors. Our academic programs, undergraduate and graduate educational services, as well as our faculty, students and facilities have always been consistently evaluated positively by the MEC and by our students. We believe this performance reflects our ongoing efforts to improve the quality and infrastructure of our courses. We have an academic audit department that standardizes and monitors our academic activities, enabling us to maintain high quality and consistency in all our processes. We believe our high educational standards and over 64% of our professors have master’s or PhD degrees that also attract potential students. Our tuition fees are carefully set based on the price charged by our direct competitors at a level that is appropriate for our value proposition and ensures healthy return levels. This is possible because, by improving academic development offered, faculty training and administrative and management functions in our head office, we are able to reduce costs related to the administrative and management structure at each unit. This allows us to charge affordable tuition fees and continue providing quality educational services for our students.
Professional management and well-established corporate governance
We have been focusing on adopting a business philosophy in our operations since inception. Our Management team is comprised of professional executives with extensive experience in the educational industry, particularly in higher education, with a business vision based on clearly defined targets, considerable experience in opening new units, obtaining authorization for new academic programs and acquiring other companies, speeding up the decision-making process. Most of our senior executives have over 10 years’ experience on average in the industry and have been at the Company for over six years, which we believe ensures greater alignment between the performance of these professioanls and our governance values and practices. In addition, we believe strategic partnerships, which bring knowledge and experience complementary to our own, add great value to our business. In addition to the Finance and People, Management and Corporate Governance committees, as of 2021, the Company adopted the non-statutory Audit Committee and, in 2022, established the Innovation Committee. In 2015, Ser Educacional, after approval of a spontaneous proposal by the Company’s management, implemented the Fiscal Council, composed of three full members. Since its implementation in 2015, also as part of Management’s proposal, the Fiscal Council has been reappointed for all subsequent fiscal years.
Last Update on June 28, 2023