Nexford University: Higher Education, (Re)Fit for Purpose

A year ago, we were knees deep in research into the EdTech space, uncovering the trends redefining education and mapping the start-ups capturing these opportunities. This exercise brought us to two conclusions. 

One: the most glaring gaps in education lie within the access-quality-cost nexus. By 2030, there will be 120 million additional university students, applying for admission into increasingly underfunded and constrained higher education institutions. Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest Tertiary Enrolment Rate in the world. In Nigeria, 1.6 million students appear for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination every year, competing for 650,000 university seats. Infrastructure constraints are part of it. Today’s knowledge, digital economy is struggling to hire talent due to a mismatch between the skills available and those desirable. The typical 21st century university student makes five career switches in their first ten years of employment. 

Two: we could count on one hand the founders addressing that nexus in higher education in emerging markets. There was a large and costly gap for a solution that expanded access to accredited, relevant and reputable academic degrees, at an affordable price point… until we met Fadl. 

It was 2017 when Fadl and Mohamed co-founded Nexford - a next-generation online university offering learners access to high-quality accredited courses that are relevant to the modern workplace, using a flexible monthly pay-as-you-go model. While US-based, the company was built for a global audience. Using AI, and Natural Language Processing specifically, the platform currently scans a growing 35 million data points to identify exact employer needs and offer modules based on the most sought-after skills. The result is a modular platform that caters to real-world needs and a broad range of users, from students and lifelong learners to employees looking to up or reskill. 

While our world perpetually shifts in tandem with digitization and innovation, education remains at a standstill. Global contextual changes, characterized by the permeation of technology in all aspects of work and life, are fueling demand for new competencies that, as of today, are not being taught in education institutions, nor reflected on national curricula. In our vision, next gen education moves with the times, leveraging the capabilities of technology to graduate learners for the 21st century. Within that imaginary, higher education is agnostic to both location and context, in perpetual symbiosis with the ways in which our world is moving. 

With and through Nexford, Fadl and his team are refitting higher education for purpose: preparing and equipping learners with the skills for a knowledge-based economy. While the product is great, it was probably Fadl’s steadfastness that took us over the line. As part of its offering, Nexford partners with companies globally to offer education and training programs for its workforce. A common request he would get from employers was to personalize the courses for the exact outcomes they were seeking. His unwavering belief in the Nexford mission - to offer standardized, objective and universal degrees to learners worldwide - meant that Fadl always declined the request. 

Today, we are proud to welcome Nexford University to the Global Ventures portfolio, and honored to be a part of their mission to enable greater social and economic mobility for learners around the world.