Takeover takes Lancaster firm to the top of the class

The Ascentis team at their Lancaster Business Park office. Pictured are Paul Howarth, commercial director, Phil Wilkinson, chief executive officer, and Fiona Lugiano, deputy chief executive officer''.
The Ascentis team at their Lancaster Business Park office. Pictured are Paul Howarth, commercial director, Phil Wilkinson, chief executive officer, and Fiona Lugiano, deputy chief executive officer''.

A Lancaster company which supplies qualifications has taken over another firm, meaning they will now be providing diplomas to more than 8,000 students.

Ascentis Awarding Organisation and Access Validating Agency has acquired AptEd Awarding Organisation and Access Validating Agency, based in Plymouth.

The terms of the acquisition agreement and asset transfer have been formally approved by both the AptEd and Ascentis boards and will come into effect from November 1.

The move will bring the number of people employed by Ascentis to 85 from its current 50.

The office in Plymouth will be maintained as a regional department and there will be no job losses.

Ascentis CEO Phil Wilkinson said: “After November 1, all AptEd staff will be retained, customer service and the learner experience will not be adversely affected or compromised in any way. Indeed, the acquisition affords stability and significant growth opportunities for those centres running qualifications and Access to Higher Education Diplomas enabling centres to easily extend and offer greater variety in their provision.”

The acquisition of AptEd by Ascentis strengthens their position nationally as not only the largest, but the leading provider and developer of Access to Higher Education Diplomas.

They provide qualifications for numerous further education colleges including Lancaster & Morecambe College.

They are also one of the main providers nationally of English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Following the merger, more than 8,000 learners will be studying on an Access Diploma provided by Ascentis and an average of 74 per cent of these will go on to study at a university of their choice.

Ascentis, previously known as the Open College in the North West, pioneered the Access to Higher Education Diploma in 1975.

Mr Wilkinson said: “Thousands of students all over the country have benefited from the life-changing opportunities that an Access Diploma creates.

“Ascentis is committed to this ethos. It is exciting for us to be able to expand this core part of our business.”

During the acquisition negotiations, both companies saw it critical to put the needs of learners at the centre of the decision-making process.

AptEd CEO Chris Brown said: “This is a strategic business move for AptEd, which offers job security and broader research and development opportunities for all our qualifications.

“It provides long-term stability and consistency to those learners studying our courses and qualifications and gives centres access to more than 600 qualifications.”

The AptEd offices in Plymouth will be retained and Ascentis, under the AptEd brand will serve the well-established network of centres that was developed by AptEd over its thirty year history, originating in the open college network in the south west.

Ascentis will continue its Lancaster-based operation developing and providing qualifications nationally.