Istituto Marangoni.

MILAN — Galileo Global Education Italia, the Italian branch of the international expert in private higher education GGE, which counts the Bettencourt Meyers family among its investors, is stepping up its game.

In a press conference hosted here on Monday, the branch’s chief executive officer Roberto Riccio set the future goals of the holding and outlined the expansion strategies conceived for each of the private schools under the Italian institution’s umbrella, which include Istituto Marangoni, Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti — better known as Naba — and Domus Academy.

Global revenues of GGE Italia reached 125 million euros in 2018, marking a 13 percent increase compared to the previous year. Riccio forecast revenues to reach and even exceed the 140 million euros landmark in 2019, registering a similar double-digit growth.

The number of students was also on the rise in 2018, as 7,517 people enrolled in the three institutions, marking a 10 percent increase compared to last year. For the first time, last year the majority of students came from outside Italy, with the international presence accounting for 60 percent. Projections for 2019 show the number of students further increasing 12 percent to exceed 8,500 people enrolled.

“We are growing fast and at a constant pace,” said Riccio underscoring the results achieved since GGE Italia was established 18 months ago.

In particular, Istituto Marangoni accounts for 75 million euros out of the total GGE Italia’s revenues, up 12 percent compared to 2017. Riccio, who’s also the managing director of the fashion and design school, forecast revenues to reach 84 million euros this year and the number of students to grow 10.5 percent to reach 4,200 people enrolled.

Already present in Milan, Florence, Paris, London, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Miami and Mumbai, the school is looking to further expand its network in new markets. It has recently opened an office in Mexico City to evaluate possibilities offered by the Latin American area, given that 600 students throughout the nine schools hail from that region. A similar operation was completed in Cairo, Egypt, as the African market will be the most important one in the upcoming years according to Riccio.

“Lagos is currently the second largest city in the world after Shanghai but it will be first by 2050,” he said, adding he’s noticing an “interesting flux” of African students in Istituto Marangoni’s London site specifically.

New York is also one of Riccio’s targets. The executive said the company is close to signing a partnership that may open the way to launch an outpost in the city in the next two years.

“Istituto Marangoni can have a lot to say in New York as the Made-in-Italy mark is our additional value,” said Riccio, admitting that the Parsons School of Design and FIT are “tough competitors.”

“If and when we will land to New York, we will bring a different, one-to-one approach. Those are huge schools where a student is a number, for us is a person,” he claimed, adding that it would take at least four years to be recognized as an institution comparable to Parsons and FIT. Riccio also underscored this potential operation would “amplify the heritage” of Istituto Marangoni as well as offer an important source of income since courses in the school’s Miami outpost cost double compared to the rest and in New York could be available at three times the price.

On a personal note, Riccio said he will step down as managing director of Istituto Marangoni by the end of the year to focus on his role as GGE Italia’s ceo. Although a successor has not been identified yet, he said that an external figure is more likely to be appointed for the job.

Naba has recently debuted a new 37,674-square-foot unit in Rome, which adds to the Milanese location and will be operative starting from October. The goal is to reach 1,000 students enrolled in this unit in the next five years. In 2018, Naba attracted 3,522 students and registered revenues of 36.7 million euros.

Meanwhile, Domus Academy is undergoing an important process of relaunch. Since GGE acquired the school in 2017, the institute worked to redefine its identity by revisiting its logo opting for a more contemporary and graphic font and tapping architect and designer Fabio Novembre as its new scientific director and ambassador. Novembre will help modernize the school’s educational program and boost the institute’s appeal, which is rooted in its Italian identity as it was the first postgraduate design school established in the country in 1982.

“It’s a proper re-foundation, we want to restore the school’s original, Eighties splendor,” said Riccio, who also revealed Domus Academy will relocate in a wider venue in Milan’s central San Babila area by 2020.

Riccio also teased the interest of further expanding GGE Italia’s portfolio with other acquisitions. In addition to the three institutions operating in the fashion, art and design fields, GGE also hold a 26.5 percent of the Alma school. Based in Colorno, near Parma, this is a leading international educational and training center for Italian cuisine founded by the late legendary Milanese chef Gualtiero Marchesi. Riccio said this represents an opportunity to grow, as “we believe food and design are neighboring territories.”

The executive also reiterated that one of the key goals is to create a physical, single education pole in Italy by 2022. As reported, the mission is to establish a widespread campus gathering the schools but this time the ceo said Naba won’t be part of the project as it already boasts a large site. The hub will include Alma instead, in addition to Istituto Marangoni and Domus Academy.

In general, Galileo Global Education has more than 37 institutes in its portfolio, distributed in 40 European cities and across 10 countries, for a total of about 100,000 students. In addition to Italy, the group operates in France, Germany, Mexico, and Senegal.

Schools in the group’s portfolio include L’Institut Supérieur des Arts Appliqués and L’Atelier de Sévres in France; the Macromedia University of Applied Sciences in Germany and the Instituto de Estudios Universitarios in Mexico.

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