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 serious cause why folks don’t go to school or school and even drop out as a result of they can’t afford tuition charges. However, relevance reveals 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 principle.
Over the previous few years, there was the emergence of quite a few various credential suppliers making an attempt to supply college students with the mandatory abilities to earn and make a dwelling. Nexford College is one in all such platforms, and as we speak, it has a closed $10.8 million pre-Sequence A funding spherical.
Dubai-based VC World Ventures led the brand new spherical. Different traders embody Future Africa’s new thematic fund (targeted on training), angel traders, and household places of work. Unnamed VCs from 10 nations, 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 training.
“That method, you get the most effective of each worlds,” CEO Al Tarzi stated to TechCrunch. “You get sensible abilities which you can put to work instantly or on 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 be taught on the platform is immediately relevant to their jobs. Presently, 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 may be very totally different from conventional universities as a result of it’s modelled month-to-month. Its accredited levels value 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 supply standardized and theoretical checks 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 initiatives.
As an illustration, a scholar engaged on an accounting course will most certainly 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 exhibiting 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 area, 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 supplies college students with assist from school and profession advisors.
After providing levels, Nexford places on its placement hats by fixing its graduates with companion employers.
There’s an enormous scarcity of jobs in Nigeria, and regardless of the excessive unemployment, it’s truly tough to seek out extraordinarily certified entry-level graduates. So Nexford has carried out a number of partnerships the place employers sponsor their workers or soon-to-be workers 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 most often) applications.
So what Nexford has completed is to companion with Sterling to fund the tutoring 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 value and our tuition charge is sort of 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 nations, 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 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 big development in youth inhabitants not met by development 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 financial system will produce sufficient jobs in Nigeria, as an illustration. However we need 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 at all times comply with the Massive Knowledge strategy, asking themselves, “how do we discover out what employers worldwide are on the lookout for and hold our curriculum alive and related?”
“We develop proprietary expertise that allows us to research 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, in brief, we begin with the top in thoughts,” he solutions.
The corporate is eager on enhancing its expertise regardless. It needs to analyse abilities extra precisely and automate extra features to reinforce person expertise. That’s what the funding will likely be used for along with fuelling its regional enlargement plans (significantly in Asia) and investing in development and product growth. Per the latter, the web college says it will likely be launching companion applications with extra employers globally to facilitate each placement and upskilling and rescaling.
Merging each worlds of tech and the standard college mannequin isn’t 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 trade’s paperwork by launching an app or a MOOC. Nexford’s mannequin of operating a degree-granting, licensed, accredited, and controlled college is more difficult however in it lies a lot alternative.
Iyin Aboyeji, Future Africa normal companion CEO, understands this. It’s one cause why the corporate is the primary funding out of Future Africa’s soon-to-be-launched fund targeted on the way forward for studying and why he believes the corporate is a game-changer for increased training in Africa.
“Through the pandemic, whereas many universities in Nigeria had been shut down attributable to labour disputes, Nexford was already delivering an progressive and inexpensive new mannequin of on-line increased training designed for a skills-based financial system.”
For normal companion at World Ventures Noor Sweid, Nexford College is redressing the mismatch between the availability of expertise and the calls for of as we speak’s digital financial system. “We are thrilled to companion with Fadl and the Nexford crew on their journey towards increasing entry to common high quality increased training in rising markets,” she stated.