The higher education sector around the world faces two deep issues: affordability and relevance. Whether you live in Africa, Europe, or the United States, one of the biggest reasons people don’t go to college or college or even drop out is because they can’t afford tuition. On the other hand, the relevance shows the huge gap between what traditional universities teach and what global employers are actually looking for. It’s no secret that universities focus a little too much on theory.
In recent years, we have seen the emergence of a number of other credential providers attempt to provide students with the skills to earn and earn a living. One such platform is Nexford University, and today it has a pre-Series A funding round of $ 10.8 million..
Dubai-based VC Global Ventures led the new round. Other investors include Future Africa’s new thematic fund (focused on education), angel investors and family offices. Unnamed VCs from 10 countries including US, UK, France, Dubai, Switzerland, Qatar, Nigeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia also participated.
To date, Nexford has raised $ 15.3 million, following the first tranche of $ 4.5 million of seed funding raised two years ago.
Fadl Al Tarzi launched Nexford University in 2019. The Tech University fills the gaps in affordability and relevance by providing access to quality and affordable education.
“This way you get the best of both worlds,” CEO Al Tarzi told TechCrunch. “You get practical skills that you can apply immediately or for your future career while actively keep a job. So the whole experience is designed as a model of learning as a service.
Nexford Unversity allows students to study at their own pace. Once they have applied and are admitted to a degree program or course program, they choose how quickly or slowly they want the program to be..
CEO says everything students learn on the platform is directly applicable to their jobs. Currently, Nexford offers undergraduate degrees in Business Administration; 360° marketing; AI and automation; build a technological start-up; business analysis; business in emerging markets; digital transformation; e-commerce; and product management. Its graduate degrees are business administration, advanced AI, e-commerce, hyperconnectivity, sustainability, and global business.
Nexford’s tuition fee structure is very different from traditional universities as it is modeled monthly. Its accredited degrees cost between $ 3,000 and $ 4,000, paid in monthly installments. In Nigeria, for example, an MBA costs around $ 160 per month, while a bachelor’s degree costs $ 80 per month. But the problem with the monthly installment structure means that the faster a learner graduates, the less he pays.
How does it feel to learn with Nexford University?
Nexford University does not offer theoretical and standardized tests or assignments like most traditional universities do. Al Tarzi says the company uses what he calls a competency-based education model where students prove their mastery by working on hands-on projects.
For example, a student working on an accounting course will most likely need to create an income statement, analyze balance sheets, and identify where the error is in order to correct it. The platform then offers the student different scenarios showing companies with different levels of income and expenses. Task? Analyze and extract certain ratios to help understand which business is profitable and the other business unit involved.
Although Nexford plays in the edtech space, Al Tarzi doesn’t think the company is an edtech company. As an accredited and accredited online university, Nexford has tremendous automation throughout the organization and provides students with the support of faculty and career counselors.
After offering degrees, Nexford puts its investment hats on by fixing its graduates with partner employers.
There is a great shortage of jobs in Nigeria, and despite the high unemployment, it is in fact difficult to find extremely qualified entry-level graduates. Nexford therefore performed many partnerships in which employers sponsor their employees or future employees for development and reclassification purposes.
One illustration is with Sterling Bank, a local bank in the country. Most Nigerian banks have annual routines where they hire graduates and put them on weeklong training programs. Sterling Bank employs any candidate it deems excellent afterwards capital intensive programs (eight weeks in most cases).
So what Nexford has done is partnered with Sterling to fund the tuition fees for students leaving high school. When these students take Nexford’s programs for the first year, they begin to get part-time internships at Sterling.. After graduating, they get a job in the bank.
“This saves Sterling the cost of training and our tuition is almost equal to the training they provided to students.. Plus, students start repaying once they’re placed, so it’s a win-win situation.
Nexford University has learners from 70 countries with Nigeria being its biggest market to date. Nexford also has premier partnerships with Microsoft, LinkedIn Learning and IBM provide access to tools, courses and programs to enhance the learning experience.
One of the main benefits of this learning experience is how it prepares people for remote jobs. Nexford is optimistic about its virtual skills grid, where people will find jobs remote regardless of their location on the platform.
“Across sub-Saharan Africa by 2026, there will be a shortage of around 100 million university places due to the huge growth of the youth population unfulfilled by growth and supply. Even if you want to build universities quickly, you wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand. And this is reflected in the labor market. We don’t think the local economy will generate enough jobs in Nigeria, for example. But we want to allow people to get jobs remotely across the world and not necessarily must migrate.
Last year, Nexford’s revenue increased 300%. This year, the company hopes to triple the number of registrations compared to last year, the CEO said.
Nexford is a leading specialist in designing student study programs based on their employer’s needs analysis.. Al Tarzi tells me that the company always follows the Big Data approach, asking, “How do we know what employers around the world are looking for and keep our program alive and relevant?” “
“We are developing proprietary technology that allows us to analyze job offers as well as many other data sources; use AI to understand how these datasets work and build a program based on those results. So in short, we start with the end in mind, ”he replies.
The company still wants to improve its technology. He wants to analyze skills more precisely and automate more functions to improve the user experience. This is what the funding will be used for in addition to fueling its regional expansion plans (especially in Asia) and investing in growth and product development. By the latter, the online university says it will launch partnership programs with more employers around the world to facilitate both placement and upgrading of skills and scaling up.
Merging the two worlds of technology and the traditional university model is no easy task. The first concerns efficiency, user orientation, the product, among others. The latter embodies rigidity and continues to lag behind rapid innovation. And while tthere has been an edtech boom, most startups are trying to bypass industry bureaucracy by launching an app or MOOC. Nexford’s model of running a graduating, accredited, accredited and regulated university is more difficult, but there are many opportunities.
Iyin Aboyeji, CEO of General Partner of Future Africa, understands this. This is one of the reasons the company is the first investment in the soon to be launched Future Africa fund focused on the future of learning and why it believes the company is a game-changer for education. higher in Africa..
“During the pandemic, while many universities in Nigeria were closed Due to labor disputes, Nexford was already offering an innovative and affordable new model of online higher education designed for a skills-based economy.
For Global Ventures General Partner Noor Sweid, Nexford University is correcting the mismatch between the talent supply and the demands of today’s digital economy. “We are delighted to partner with Fadl and the Nexford team on their journey towards expanding access to quality universal higher education in emerging markets, ”she said.