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Education globally has been characterized by expansion and fundamental change in recent decades, including increasing student numbers, notable shifts from public-sector to private-sector education in developing countries, and ever-changing technological advancements. These developments have created opportunities for innovation and investment, but have also been accompanied by increasing operational complexity and competition, as well as proliferating regulation. Our lawyers are ideally placed to enable clients to explore these opportunities and navigate these challenges.

The education sector is highly regulated by sector-specific laws and policy measures. Educational institutions’ operations are also governed by a range of general laws, including anti-trust/ competition, employment, data protection and tax laws and, in some jurisdictions, local ownership/ indigenization laws, each of which have particular nuances in the context of educational institutions. Moreover, schools and universities are required to have in place various policies (e.g. admissions, disciplinary, human resource, social media) and need to set up structures equipped to implement these policies.

Commercial transactions in the education sector need to be conducted not only with due regard to corporate and tax complexities, but also in a way that ensures due regulatory compliance with sector-specific laws. Our transactional and advisory experience includes advising clients on matters at secondary and tertiary levels, across the private and public sectors. In addition, we have longstanding relationships with regulatory bodies which allows us to facilitate efficient completion of transactions in the African market. Our clients include education institutions, investors and technology and other service providers.

Our multi-disciplinary and cross-jurisdictional team is in a singular position to provide clients entering or operating in this field with a comprehensive spectrum of services covering transactional, regulatory, tax and employment law in the education sector.

Specialist services:

  • Advising on complex commercial transactions ensuring compliance with applicable corporate, tax, regulatory, local ownership / indigenisation and employment laws
  • Providing specialist advice on local ownership/ indigenisation matters within the education sector
  • Providing comprehensive regulatory and employment advice at secondary and tertiary levels of the education sector
  • Assisting with dispute resolution within the education sector
  • Liaising with regulatory authorities, where applicable
  • We represented the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) in Supreme Court proceedings concerning Pridwin Preparatory School’s termination of its contract with pupils’ parents. We also advised ISASA separately on copyright issues affecting independent schools and on the application of consumer laws and data protection laws to learner enrolment contracts for independent schools.
  • We advised tertiary institutions (including the University of Cape Town, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Venda and the University of South Africa) on a range of employment matters, including: insourcing, collective bargaining, strike action, dismissal disputes and unfair labour practices; employment policies; investigations and disciplinary proceedings against employees and students; and High Court, Labour Court, Labour Appeal Court and CCMA proceedings.
  • We advised Standard Bank of South Africa on BBBEE aspects of contributions made to the Feenix Trust, set up in response to the #FeesMustFall movement.
  • We advised Edulink Holdings Ltd, an investment fund that specializes in education, on the establishment of Victoria University in Uganda, and subsequently also on their exit from the investment.
  • We advised Old Mutual Alternative Investments on:
    • Various Schools Fund and Housing Fund developments, including the financing arrangements
    • The investments of the Schools and Education Investment Impact Fund of South Africa in a variety of educational projects, including the financing of infrastructure requirements for upgrading existing, and building new, schools and further education and training colleges
  • We advised EDUCAS International on its acquisition of a majority stake in the Reddam Schools
  • We advised Laureate Education Inc. on the:
    • Sale of the education business by Monash South Africa Ltd, its joint venture with Monash University, to The Independent Institute of Education (Pty) Ltd (IIE), a subsidiary of ADvTECH Ltd
    • Sale of its entire shareholding interest in Laureate South Africa (Pty) Ltd to IIE
  • We advised Apollo Global Education Group, Inc., an international education group, on the:
    • Acquisition of a controlling interest in Milpark Education (Pty) Ltd from Leaf Capital and other investors
    • Sale of its entire interest in Milpark Education to Stadio Holdings Ltd and Brimstone Ltd, value at ZAR 320 million
    • Broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) requirements in the context of the provision of corporate education services by Milpark Education

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