Two profound issues face the upper schooling sector globally — affordability and relevance. Whether or not you reside in Africa, Europe, or the U.S., a serious purpose why folks don’t go to school or faculty and even drop out as a result of they can not afford tuition charges. Alternatively, relevance reveals the massive hole between what conventional universities train and what international employers truly search for. It’s not a secret that universities focus a bit an excessive amount of on concept.
Over the previous few years, there was the emergence of quite a lot of different credential suppliers making an attempt to supply college students with the required expertise to earn and make a dwelling. Nexford College is one among such platforms, and at this time, it has a closed $10.eight million pre-Sequence A funding spherical.
Dubai-based VC World Ventures led the brand new spherical. Different traders embrace Future Africa’s new thematic fund (centered on schooling), angel traders, and household workplaces. Unnamed VCs from 10 international locations, together with the U.S., U.Ok., France, Dubai, Switzerland, Qatar, Nigeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, additionally took half.
Up to now, Nexford has raised $15.Three million, following the primary tranche of $4.5 million in seed funding raised two years in the past.
“That approach, you get one of the best of each worlds,” CEO Al Tarzi stated to TechCrunch. “You get sensible expertise which you can put to work instantly or in your future profession whereas actively preserving a job. So the entire expertise is designed as a studying as a service mannequin.”
Nexford Unversity lets college students examine at their very own tempo. As soon as they apply and get admitted into both a level program or a course program, they select how briskly or sluggish they need this system to be.
The CEO says no matter college students study on the platform is immediately relevant to their jobs. At the moment, Nexford provides undergraduate levels in enterprise administration; 360° advertising; AI & automation; constructing a tech startup; enterprise analytics; enterprise in rising markets; digital transformation; e-commerce; and product administration. Its graduate levels are enterprise administration, superior AI, e-commerce, hyperconnectivity, sustainability, and world enterprise.
Nexford’s tuition construction could be very totally different from conventional universities as a result of it’s modelled month-to-month. Its accredited levels price between $3,000 to $4,000 paid in month-to-month instalments. In Nigeria, for example, an MBA prices about $160 a month, whereas a bachelor diploma prices $80 a month. However the catch for the month-to-month instalment construction means the quicker a learner graduates, the much less they pay.
What’s it like studying with Nexford College?
Nexford College doesn’t provide standardized and theoretical exams or assignments as most conventional universities do. Al Tarzi says the corporate employs what he calls a competency-based schooling mannequin the place college students show mastery by engaged on sensible tasks.
For example, a scholar engaged on an accounting course will almost certainly must create a P&L assertion, analyze steadiness sheets and establish the place the error is to appropriate it. The platform then provides the scholar totally different eventualities displaying firms with totally different revenues and expense ranges. The duty? To analyse and extract sure ratios to assist make sense of which firm is worthwhile and the opposite unit economics concerned.
Although Nexford performs within the edtech house, Al Tarzi doesn’t suppose the corporate is an edtech firm. As a licensed and accredited on-line college, Nexford has an enormous quantity of automation throughout the group and offers college students with assist from college and profession advisors.
After providing levels, Nexford places on its placement hats by fixing its graduates with accomplice employers.
There’s a giant scarcity of jobs in Nigeria, and regardless of the excessive unemployment, it’s truly troublesome to seek out extraordinarily certified entry-level graduates. So Nexford has carried out a number of partnerships the place employers sponsor their staff or soon-to-be staff for upskilling and rescaling functions.
An illustration is with Sterling Financial institution, an area financial institution within the nation. Most Nigerian banks have yearly routines the place they rent graduates and put them on weeks-long coaching applications. Sterling Financial institution employs any candidate it feels did nice after the capital intensive (eight weeks usually) applications.
So what Nexford has performed is to accomplice with Sterling to fund the schooling for highschool leavers. When these college students undergo Nexford’s applications for the primary 12 months, they start to get part-time placements at Sterling. Upon commencement, they get a job within the financial institution.
“That saves Sterling the coaching price and our tuition charge is nearly equal to the coaching that they supplied for college kids. Additionally, college students begin paying again as soon as they get positioned, so it’s a win-win.”
Nexford College has learners from 70 international locations, with Nigeria its greatest market but. Nexford additionally has blue-chip partnerships with Microsoft, LinkedIn Studying, and IBM to supply entry to instruments, programs and programmes to enhance the educational expertise.
One of many main positive aspects of this studying expertise is the way it prepares folks for distant jobs. Nexford is bullish on its digital expertise grid, the place folks will get jobs remotely no matter their location on the platform.
“Throughout Sub Saharan Africa by the 12 months 2026, there’s gonna be a scarcity of about 100 million college seats on account of large progress in youth inhabitants not met by progress and provide. Even if you wish to construct universities quick, you wouldn’t have the ability to meet the demand. And that spirals right down to the job market. We don’t suppose the native financial system will produce sufficient jobs in Nigeria, for example. However we wish to allow folks to get distant jobs internationally and never essentially should migrate.”
Final 12 months, Nexford’s revenues grew by 300%. This 12 months, the corporate hopes to triple the dimensions of its enrollment from final 12 months, the CEO stated.
Nexford is massive on designing college students’ curriculum primarily based on evaluation of what their employer wants. Al Tarzi tells me that the corporate all the time comply with the Huge Information strategy, asking themselves, “how do we discover out what employers worldwide are in search of and preserve our curriculum alive and related?”
“We develop proprietary expertise that permits us to research job vacancies in addition to a number of different information sources; use AI to grasp how these information units and construct a curriculum primarily based on these findings. So, briefly, we begin with the tip in thoughts,” he solutions.
The corporate is eager on bettering its expertise regardless. It desires to analyse expertise extra precisely and automate extra capabilities to reinforce consumer expertise. That’s what the funding can be used for along with fuelling its regional growth plans (notably in Asia) and investing in progress and product growth. Per the latter, the web college says it will likely be launching accomplice applications with extra employers globally to facilitate each placement and upskilling and rescaling.
Merging each worlds of tech and the standard college mannequin is not any simple feat. The previous is about effectivity, user-centricity, product, amongst others. The latter embodies rigidity and continues to lag behind fast-paced innovation. And whereas tright here’s been a increase in edtech, most startups attempt to circumvent the business’s forms by launching an app or a MOOC. Nexford’s mannequin of working a degree-granting, licensed, accredited, and controlled college is more difficult however in it lies a lot alternative.
Iyin Aboyeji, Future Africa common accomplice CEO, understands this. It’s one purpose why the corporate is the primary funding out of Future Africa’s soon-to-be-launched fund centered on the way forward for studying and why he believes the corporate is a game-changer for greater schooling in Africa.
“Through the pandemic, whereas many universities in Nigeria had been shut down as a consequence of labour disputes, Nexford was already delivering an progressive and inexpensive new mannequin of on-line greater schooling designed for a skills-based financial system.”
For common accomplice at World Ventures Noor Sweid, Nexford College is redressing the mismatch between the provision of expertise and the calls for of at this time’s digital financial system. “We are thrilled to accomplice with Fadl and the Nexford group on their journey towards increasing entry to common high quality greater schooling in rising markets,” she stated.