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 motive why folks don’t go to college or faculty and even drop out as a result of they can’t afford tuition charges. Then again, relevance reveals the large hole between what conventional universities educate and what international employers really search for. It’s not a secret that universities focus a bit an excessive amount of on idea.
Over the previous few years, there was the emergence of a lot of various credential suppliers attempting to offer college students with the required abilities to earn and make a dwelling. Nexford College is one in all such platforms, and immediately, it has a closed $10.8 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 places of work. Unnamed VCs from 10 international locations, together with the U.S., U.Okay., France, Dubai, Switzerland, Qatar, Nigeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, additionally took half.
So far, Nexford has raised $15.3 million, following the primary tranche of $4.5 million in seed funding raised two years in the past.
Fadl Al Tarzi launched Nexford College in 2019. The tech-enabled college is filling affordability and relevance gaps by offering entry to high quality and inexpensive schooling.
“That approach, you get the most effective of each worlds,” CEO Al Tarzi stated to TechCrunch. “You get sensible abilities which you could put to work instantly or on your future profession whereas actively protecting a job. So the entire expertise is designed as a studying as a service mannequin.”
Nexford Unversity lets college students research 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 gradual they need this system to be.
The CEO says no matter college students study on the platform is straight relevant to their jobs. At present, Nexford affords undergraduate levels in enterprise administration; 360° advertising and marketing; 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 completely 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, as an illustration, 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 assessments 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 pupil engaged on an accounting course will most certainly have to create a P&L assertion, analyze steadiness sheets and establish the place the error is to right it. The platform then offers the scholar completely different situations displaying corporations with completely 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 gives college students with help from school and profession advisors.
After providing levels, Nexford places on its placement hats by fixing its graduates with associate employers.
There’s a giant scarcity of jobs in Nigeria, and regardless of the excessive unemployment, it’s really tough 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 packages. Sterling Financial institution employs any candidate it feels did nice after the capital intensive (eight weeks most often) packages.
So what Nexford has carried out is to associate with Sterling to fund the tutoring for highschool leavers. When these college students undergo Nexford’s packages 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 sort of equal to the coaching that they offered for college students. 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 offer entry to instruments, programs and programmes to enhance the training expertise.
One of many main features of this studying expertise is the way it prepares folks for distant jobs. Nexford is bullish on its digital abilities 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 because of large progress in youth inhabitants not met by progress and provide. Even if you wish to construct universities quick, you wouldn’t be capable of meet the demand. And that spirals all the way down to the job market. We don’t suppose the native economic system will produce sufficient jobs in Nigeria, as an illustration. However we need to allow folks to get distant jobs the world over and never essentially need to migrate.”
Final 12 months, Nexford’s revenues grew by 300%. This 12 months, the corporate hopes to triple the scale of its enrollment from final 12 months, the CEO stated.
Nexford is large on designing college students’ curriculum based mostly on evaluation of what their employer wants. Al Tarzi tells me that the corporate all the time observe the Large Knowledge method, asking themselves, “how do we discover out what employers worldwide are searching for and preserve our curriculum alive and related?”
“We develop proprietary expertise that allows us to research job vacancies in addition to a number of different information sources; use AI to know how these information units and construct a curriculum based mostly on these findings. So, in brief, we begin with the tip in thoughts,” he solutions.
The corporate is eager on bettering its expertise regardless. It needs to analyse abilities extra precisely and automate extra capabilities to boost consumer expertise. That’s what the funding can be used for along with fuelling its regional enlargement plans (notably in Asia) and investing in progress and product improvement. Per the latter, the net college says it is going to be launching associate packages with extra employers globally to facilitate each placement and upskilling and rescaling.
Merging each worlds of tech and the normal college mannequin is not any straightforward 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 paperwork by launching an app or a MOOC. Nexford’s mannequin of operating a degree-granting, licensed, accredited, and controlled college is tougher however in it lies a lot alternative.
Iyin Aboyeji, Future Africa basic associate CEO, understands this. It’s one motive 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.
“In the course of the pandemic, whereas many universities in Nigeria had been shut down as a result of labour disputes, Nexford was already delivering an modern and inexpensive new mannequin of on-line greater schooling designed for a skills-based economic system.”
For basic associate at World Ventures Noor Sweid, Nexford College is redressing the mismatch between the provision of expertise and the calls for of immediately’s digital economic system. “We are thrilled to associate with Fadl and the Nexford crew on their journey towards increasing entry to common high quality greater schooling in rising markets,” she stated.