Rafter, the parent company behind Bookrenter, announced Wednesday that it has acquired education technology company HubEdu, which provides adoption, comparison shopping, and pricing services to help schools better serve their students.
The move is part of Rafter’s strategy to help higher education institutions work on a single, cloud-based platform that reduces the cost of education for students.
HubEdu offers cloud-based services that improve the process of textbook adoption, distribution, pricing, and shopping. This means that educators and institutions can find the books and prices that are the best for their coursework and students with greater ease.
Rafter will be integrating these services into the Rafter Course Materials Network.
Back in February, Bookrenter created a parent company to build the Rafter Course Material Network and help schools with more than just getting books to students.
"Most universities have not had a single platform partner that was end-to-end for course material,"Mehdi Maghsoodnia, CEO of Rafter, told me in an interview. ““College administrators are working hard to address the affordability, accessibility and effectiveness of course materials while managing the ever-increasing complexity and we had to tools to create just the right platform.”
Rafter, through the Rafter Network, provides tools that the schools need to give students improved access to educational content at better prices while building transparent, supplier-and-content neutral tools to assure universities aren't loosing material or money.
“Roughly 70% of all students in the U.S attend community colleges and other public institutions, and a majority of them grapple with the cost of books,” Mehdi Maghsoodnia, CEO of Rafter, told me. “Course materials are the second highest collegiate expenditure behind tuition and we want to help both the institutions as well as the students by getting them an efficient sales system as well as the tools to get the best prices on materials.”
Higher education in the US is a $400+ billion industry with 40% of the market in community colleges and public institutions.
Rafter currently has 260 active accounts with various education institutions and more than one million students are already being serviced by this cloud-solution.
WIth the addition of San Diego-based HubEdu, Rafter hopes to help even more.
The small 4 person HubEdu team will be moving up to the Bay Area to help Rafter fold in applications on the material purchasing end of the system to their tracking and selling end.
"Educational systems have a tough time in this supply chain because they aren't always getting the best deals like a Barnes and Noble might, so we really want to make a searchable system that they can use to keep education as affordable as possible," said Maghsoodnia.
And with Rafter adding roughly 100 institutions per year, the expense that young adults pay to get through college just might be lightening up soon.
And for an idea of just how many students and schools are seeing better prices for thier text books and course material, check out the fun infographic that Rafter put on its website as of this announcement.
I saw that my old stomping grounds, San Francisco State University (Go Gators!) has saved students a total of $680,000 since they adopted the Rafter system into their bookstore supply chain. As my mother would say, that's nothing to sneeze at. Other school have saved millions, greatly because they have been on the system longer, while newer schools may have only saved their student population $40,000 so far.
I think most people will agree that any money saved in the college department is a great improvement.