Public Sector


Deals Activity: Moderate

Restructuring Activity: Low

Student numbers remain strong, but financial pressures remain.

Deals activity in Education

  1. 1. Deal activity has remained relatively steady in recent years, with a notable drop off before and during the pandemic.
  2. 2. The sector has seen significant consolidation in recent years, as education providers (from schools to FE establishments) look to divest of non-core operations and raise cash.

Restructuring activity in Education

Fears of a post-Brexit dip in international student numbers has proven unfounded, with an increase in non-EU students making up for a decline in EU students in recent years.

Demographic trends across the UK school population are likely to support further and higher education sectors in the medium-term.

Some institutions remain resource-constrained and managing significant debt levels; however the acute financial pressures seen a few years ago have somewhat abated.


Following the impact of COVID, HE/FE admissions have held up remarkably well. International student numbers are estimated to rise a further 50% over the next five years as non-EU applicants replace those from the EU post-Brexit, according to UCAS forecasting.

Despite demand for courses likely to remain strong over the next five years, several financial challenges remain for the sector.

Debt levels

Institutions have invested heavily in teaching and pastoral facilities to encourage applications and improve ranking positions. This commendable investment in higher education has led to balance sheet weakness for some, which is difficult to resolve quickly under the current funding structure.


Whilst demand for the top-ranking universities remains as strong as ever, those with mediocre ratings or lacking a unique proposition may still struggle to achieve the necessary admission volumes to cover costs.

Cost control

Operating in a quasi-public arena, cost control is increasingly important in the current inflationary environment, alongside balancing the continual need for investment to drive admissions and high-quality research.

Find Your Expert

Craig Masters is Interpath Sector Lead for Public Sector, which includes Education as one of four core segments. James Clark leads our approach to the Education sector nationally. For a full list of our senior people with experience in this sector use the button below.

Our senior team