Hobsons acquisition targets retention, educational outcomes

Acquisition will help the company deliver actionable student success analytics to support student retention and success

hobsons-retentionHobsons, a provider of college and career readiness, enrollment management, and student success solutions, on Jan. 12 announced the acquisition of the Predictive Analytics Reporting (PAR) Framework, Inc. PAR, a national membership collaborative, helps colleges, universities, and higher education systems use data to improve retention and postsecondary success.

Founded in 2011 with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PAR has evolved into a student success collaborative with more than two dozen member institutions, including the North Dakota University System, the University of Hawaii System, and the University System of Maryland.

PAR offers member organizations tools and services to inventory and measure the impact of their student success interventions, benchmark their institutions’ academic success in comparison to peer institutions, and predict which students are going to be at-risk. Members of the nonprofit PAR also benefit from community insight and effective practices shared from across the collaborative.

The acquisition follows Hobsons’ February 2015 acquisition of Starfish Retention Solutions, a student success and advising platform serving hundreds of colleges and universities. The addition of PAR creates a unique opportunity for Hobsons to help scale the work of delivering actionable intelligence and interventions that keep students engaged and progressing toward graduation while improving the ability of institutions to measure the effectiveness of their student success initiatives.

Leveraging the technology and expertise of the PAR team to enhance its college readiness, admissions, and student success platforms will enable Hobsons to help millions of students make better decisions about which academic pathways to follow and will improve institutions’ understanding of which students need support and which interventions work best.

“Higher education is struggling to make sense of its abundance of data – to help either individual students or the institution as a whole. This acquisition allows us to respond to our customers’ requests that we combine the best of PAR analytics and the best of Hobsons’ products to make an integrated impact on student outcomes,” said Stephen M. Smith, president of advising and admissions at Hobsons. “We are excited about the potential of joining the expertise of Hobsons and the PAR team to support student achievement and deliver data-driven intelligence across the student lifecycle from K-12 through postsecondary.”

Prior to the acquisition, the University of Hawaii System and the University of North Dakota have been working with PAR and Hobsons to enable the secure delivery of predictive student risk scores from the PAR analytics platform into the Starfish and Radius platforms to support students. Both systems were recently awarded EDUCAUSE Next Generation Learning Challenges IPASS (Integrated Planning & Advising for Student Success) grants to continue this work.

“PAR has been a great resource to help us develop insights to keep more University of Hawaii System students in college and on track toward graduation,” said Dr. Hae Okimoto, director of academic technologies, at the University of Hawaii System. “Our ability to integrate PAR insights with Starfish solutions will be a game changer for us.”

“We are already seeing the results,” said Dr. Joshua Riedy, vice provost and chief strategy officer for the University of North Dakota. “During our first 18 months with PAR, UND experienced a 5 percent increase in student retention and a 2 percent increase in graduation rates. We are looking forward to being able to help all students in our System plan for their college success, even before they arrive on campus.”

“Hobsons shares our core values about the importance of supporting student success in tangible, measureable ways,” said Beth Davis, CEO of PAR Framework. “We are pleased and excited that Hobsons will invest in PAR technology to help us reach its full potential.”

Under Davis’ leadership, PAR will operate as a new division within Hobsons. It will continue to support its current members under existing membership terms and will expand its membership while delivering valuable insights through Hobsons’ products.

Following the transaction, the non-profit entity will become the Foundation for Student Success, Inc. The Foundation will use the proceeds of the transaction to support research focused on improving outcomes for at-risk students and improving overall student success in higher education.

For more information about the PAR acquisition, please visit: http://www.hobsons.com/par.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione