Two profound issues face the upper training sector globally — affordability and relevance. Whether or not you reside in Africa, Europe, or the U.S., a significant cause why individuals don’t go to college or faculty and even drop out as a result of they can not afford tuition charges. Alternatively, relevance exhibits the large hole between what conventional universities educate and what world employers truly 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 numerous various credential suppliers attempting to supply college students with the mandatory abilities to earn and make a dwelling. Nexford College is one in every of such platforms, and right now, it has a closed $10.eight million pre-Sequence A funding spherical.
Dubai-based VC International Ventures led the brand new spherical. Different traders embrace Future Africa’s new thematic fund (centered on training), 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.
Thus far, Nexford has raised $15.three million, following the primary tranche of $four.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 training.
“That approach, you get the most effective of each worlds,” CEO Al Tarzi mentioned to TechCrunch. “You get sensible abilities that you would be able to 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 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 be taught on the platform is immediately relevant to their jobs. At the moment, 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 totally different from conventional universities as a result of it’s modelled month-to-month. Its accredited levels value between $three,000 to $four,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 supply standardized and theoretical assessments or assignments as most conventional universities do. Al Tarzi says the corporate employs what he calls a competency-based training mannequin the place college students show mastery by engaged on sensible tasks.
For example, a pupil engaged on an accounting course will almost definitely must create a P&L assertion, analyze steadiness sheets and determine the place the error is to right it. The platform then offers the coed 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 assume 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 help from school and profession advisors.
After providing levels, Nexford places on its placement hats by fixing its graduates with associate employers.
There’s an enormous scarcity of jobs in Nigeria, and regardless of the excessive unemployment, it’s truly tough to search 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, a neighborhood 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 generally) packages.
So what Nexford has completed 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 value and our tuition payment is sort of equal to the coaching that they offered 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 largest 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 good points of this studying expertise is the way it prepares individuals for distant jobs. Nexford is bullish on its digital abilities grid, the place individuals 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 enormous progress in youth inhabitants not met by progress and provide. Even if you wish to construct universities quick, you wouldn’t be capable to meet the demand. And that spirals all the way down to the job market. We don’t assume the native economic system will produce sufficient jobs in Nigeria, for example. However we need to allow individuals to get distant jobs the world over 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 mentioned.
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 Knowledge strategy, asking themselves, “how do we discover out what employers worldwide are on the lookout for and maintain our curriculum alive and related?”
“We develop proprietary know-how that allows us to investigate job vacancies in addition to a number of different knowledge sources; use AI to grasp how these knowledge units and construct a curriculum primarily based on these findings. So, briefly, we begin with the top in thoughts,” he solutions.
The corporate is eager on enhancing its know-how regardless. It needs to analyse abilities extra precisely and automate extra capabilities to reinforce person expertise. That’s what the funding will probably be used for along with fuelling its regional growth plans (significantly in Asia) and investing in progress and product improvement. Per the latter, the web college says it will likely 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 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 growth 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 tougher however in it lies a lot alternative.
Iyin Aboyeji, Future Africa basic associate CEO, understands this. It’s one cause 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 larger training in Africa.
“In the course of the pandemic, whereas many universities in Nigeria had been shut down on account of labour disputes, Nexford was already delivering an revolutionary and inexpensive new mannequin of on-line larger training designed for a skills-based economic system.”
For basic associate at International Ventures Noor Sweid, Nexford College is redressing the mismatch between the provision of expertise and the calls for of right now’s digital economic system. “We are thrilled to associate with Fadl and the Nexford workforce on their journey towards increasing entry to common high quality larger training in rising markets,” she mentioned.