Sylvan-run overseas school goes wireless

University in Spain is its first outside U.S. to enter laptop age

April 06, 2001|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,SUN STAFF

Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. said yesterday that a university in Spain that it operates and in which it has part ownership was the company's first to go wireless, allowing students and faculty to access class notes, schedules and assignments from their laptops anywhere on campus.

The company said Universidad Europea CEES of Madrid is the first Sylvan-owned overseas university and the first major university in Europe to go wireless.

"Any place around the campus, you just open up your laptop and you're online," said Joseph Duffey, senior vice president of Sylvan International Universities.

Sylvan bought a 54 percent stake in Universidad Europea in 1999. The school has about 7,500 students and 28 graduate and undergraduate degree programs.

The acquisition of Universidad Europea launched Sylvan International Universities, a division of Sylvan that is assembling a network of overseas schools. Sylvan has since acquired a piece of three other international universities with a total of 55,000 students.

Sylvan has been putting a major emphasis on its International Universities division, and it's beginning to show on its income statement. For 2001, Sylvan International Universities are expected to generate about $200 million in revenue - about 40 percent of Sylvan Learning Systems' expected revenue for this year.

Shares of Sylvan closed yesterday at $20.25, up 19 cents.

Making the Madrid campus wireless cost about $106,000, Duffey said. But Sylvan hopes that its other overseas campuses will follow suit. It also hopes that there eventually will be broadband connections between all of the company's European campuses so students at different schools can share lectures via the Internet.

"The wireless campus opens new horizons for our students, dramatically changing the way they learn and work ... and helping prepare them for the technological challenges of their future professional careers," Juan Salcedo, rector of Universidad Europea, said.

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