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Expansion National University eyes acquisition of school

National University is celebrating its upgraded status after receiving distinguished credit ratings from two influential credit rating agencies.

Global credit rating and analysis firms, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Services gave the private university upgraded ratings from its previous year’s standings.

The university received an “A+” issuer credit rating from Standard & Poor’s based on National’s strong financial performance.

The university’s statistics reflected a net tuition revenue growth that exceeded 11 percent over the past two years, operating margins that averaged about 33 percent over the past three years and a threefold growth in cash and investments in the past five years.

National also has one of the fastest-growing endowments in higher education with assets surpassing $150 million in fiscal 2000, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

Up 19 positions from last year’s study, NACUBO ranked the university 235th out of 569 institutions for the size of its endowment.

“What has made us grow so fast is we’ve taken our operating surplus and plowed it into our ‘quasi-endowment,'” said Hoyt Smith, director of public relations.

Real estate purchases, such as the acquisition of Jenny Craig’s headquarters building in July, and vendor relations have also attributed to the university’s growing financial resources, Smith said.


– Rating Boosted

Moody’s Investor Services raised National’s rating from last year’s ‘A3’ to an ‘A1.’

Along with its exceptional operating performance, Moody’s judgment was also based on the university’s impressive student body growth.

Statistics provided by National show its annual average of full-time students over the past four years have shown increases of 8.4 percent, surpassing Stanford University as the second largest private university in California.

These ratings come as a great honor to the university, that just 11 years ago was nearly $9 million in debt.

“To come this far and to be on the same par as other prestigious universities, really says something about National University,” Smith said.


– Serving A Niche Market

Its growing popularity can be attributed to the university’s concept of offering practical programs to practical students, he added.

“We have a unique niche market that offers higher education access to adult learners.”

A successful niche market is just one of the strengths Moody’s cites as a contributing factor to the financial and operating success of a university.

With the average student age at 32, National is not your typical post-adolescent university.

The San Diego-based institution has 26 campuses throughout the nation that offer its more than 25,000 students a one-course-per-month format.

“We’re constantly evolving programs that are responsive to a changing market and our customer’s needs,” Smith said.

Online courses, and numerous degree and credential programs focused in the fields of business and technology are an attractive and beneficial commodity for a working adult’s needs, especially when MBAs and higher-trained employees are in demand in the workplace, Smith said.

“You get what you’re looking for,” he said.

The rating firms are invited to come out and conduct a study on the university to determine its standing.

The results were released in early May of this year.

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