The acquisition, of an undisclosed value, will help the Sweden-based international education organisation expand its reach beyond Europe and help find and enrol more students in the Asia-Pacific region.  

The partnership will also aid Keystone’s aim of evolving beyond search and discovery, helping students all the way to enrolment and retention.

“Last year, 120 million students used Keystone as part of their study search journey and over 70,000 directly enrolled into a program through our services. With the help of Edunation and Asia Exchange, we expect to support thousands more in 2024 and beyond,” said Fredrik Högemark, CEO of Keystone. 

“These students will benefit from access to an expanded range of programs, including gap years, study abroad, pathways and full degrees.” 

The move has been in the works for many year, Högemark told The PIE.

“This has been in the works for many years. We’ve been getting to know each other in the Nordics and now is good timing to finally join forces,” he said. 

Study Abroad provider Asia Exchange was founded by Harri Suominen and Tuomas Kauppinen in 2007. Ten years later, the pair launched Edunation which is now the leading provider of pathways to work and study in Finland.  

“This is probably the most exciting Monday that I’ve ever had in my professional career,” Suominen told The PIE, a day before the acquisition was officially announced.  

“We are proud and humbled to be able to join a global powerhouse in the field of international education, especially one with roots in the Nordics,” said Suominen.   

Asia Exhange has helped 10,000 students from 115 different countries study in destinations across Asia and Latin America.  

According to Suominen, South Korea is Asia’s fastest growing study destination, followed by growing markets in Southeast Asia such as Malaysia and Thailand.  

Bali is also a “hidden treasure,” receiving about one thousand students a year from Germany and Nordic countries, said Suominen.  

Keystone’s acquisition of Asia Exchange will drive its expansion into these regions, diversifying its global network and enabling students to go to a wider range of countries beyond the big four study destinations.  

The alliance with Edunation will see a big push on sending students to Finland and other Nordic countries, promoting the region as a high-quality study destination.  

“There is no higher density of high-level universities than in the Nordics. It’s not in California, it’s not in the United States where the top-ranked universities are, it’s in the Nordics. So now we just need to claim our position as top of the world,” Suominen told The PIE 

Edunation aims to attract full degree-seeking students and pathway students who want to stay in the Nordics, bring their families and find jobs. 

“We are having big talent shortages in these countries and the other Nordic countries have been missing an operator like Edunation. When we established Edunation in 2017, the goal that was someday it would not only be Edunation of Finland, but it could be Edunation of the Nordics and Europe. Now the day has come. 

“What started as a two-guy team, now we can grow to a global scale. Finland is a small country, together we are much bigger,” said Suominen.  

The merger with Edunation and Asia Exchange will help Keystone achieve its long-term aim of evolving the business beyond search and discovery, supporting universities and students throughout the process, to application, enrolment and retention.  

In 2021, Keystone acquired UniQuest, a UK-based student engagement, conversion and retention specialist, to evolve its lead-to-enrolment business aim.

“Now we can help more students go all the way. Students are expecting are more seamless, more digital and faster journey and I think by bringing these companies together, we’ll be delivering that. Asia Exchange and Edunation have been really good at 24-hour turnarounds, speeding the journey up and making it easier for the student,” said Högemark.   

Keystone also added postgrad specialist FindAUniversity, to its list of acquisitions in 2021, offering students enhanced search options and enhancing reach for partner institutions.