Nexford offers Nigerians US-licensed degrees amid university strikes As university strikes continue, Nexford offers Nigerians cheap degrees that are recognized by the US.
Nexford University held its second graduation ceremony in Nigeria over the weekend. Four hundred students in their graduation gowns were ready to get their BBAs and MBAs from the online university. Nexford University is an online university licensed in the US that lets its students, who are called “learners,” study at their own pace.
Nexford offers Nigerians US-licensed degrees amid university strikes
At Nexford, undergraduate students from all over the world take classes like building a tech startup, artificial intelligence, and e-commerce. Postgraduate students take classes like hyperconnectivity and business administration. The university is proud to offer education that is useful in the modern world. Fadl Al Tarzi, the CEO and founder, says that courses like software engineering, digital marketing, and project management may be added if there is enough demand.
“We think there’s a gap between cheap education and good education,” Al Tarzi said during a conversation at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos. This is why Nexford University was created. He said that he started Nexford to fill this gap and meet the need for a degree from society and employers. He also told TechCabal that the university’s online reputation is built only through digital and social media. Through “word of mouth,” people from more than 80 different countries now use Nexford.
Nexford was started in 2018 and is licensed as a university in Washington, DC. Al Tarzi said the university is trying to get national accreditation in the US ( Nexford cannot offer programmes in 22 American states). Al Tarzi said that getting national accreditation was difficult and not good for new businesses. “The licensing and accrediting process is very strict and takes four years. You have to apply to certain bodies that the Department of Education has approved.” Al Tarzi said that’s how it is because the group that approves Nexford has to make sure it will last and is good in the classroom.
Nexford’s method of teaching and learning is called “authentic assessment.” At Nexford, students don’t take exams or tests. Instead, they turn in assignments and projects. Al Tarzi said that this is because Nexford wants its students to be ready for the real world of work. “If you take a course in finance, you have to make a financial model. We won’t ask you to write a paper about the financial model because all of our tests are meant to be like what an employer would ask you to do.
Nexford said last week that it had raised $8 million in a Series A round of funding. This is on top of the $10.8 million it raised in a pre-Series A round last year. Al Tarzi said that the money is being used to improve the technology that Nexford uses. Al Tarzi said that Nexford’s curriculum is based on a natural language processing model that the university made to look at job openings all over the world. The Nexford Operating System is also used at the university to make administrative tasks easier and cheaper to run.
Nexford charges $90 per month for a bachelor’s degree and $180 for an MBA. The average cost of a degree from Nexford is between $3000 and $4000, while the average cost of tuition in the United States is $19,020. Al Tarzi said, “We would rather teach 100,000 people for $2,000 than 50,000 for $4,000.” Nexford was set up as a public benefit corporation, and it wants to reach as many people as possible so that it can have the most impact.
Al Tarzi says that since the university opened, it has taken in close to 4,000 students. Nexford set up a survey for its former students to see if they were on track to get a 3x to 5x return on their education investments or had already done so. This was done to find out how much of an impact it had on these students. Al Tarzi said that more than 90% of the university’s graduates said yes.
Anuoluwapo Ademuyiwa, one of these graduates, told TechCabal that he was able to make four times his annual salary just eight months after he graduated.
It’s not too far from the truth to say that Nigeria needs to fix its education system. Students from all over the country have been stuck at home since February 14 because of a nationwide university strike. This is the 16th time that this has happened since Nigeria went back to being a democracy in 1999.
Nigeria also has the most children who are not in school – 11 million – of any country in the world. Malam Adamu Adamu, Nigeria’s Minister of Education, said last year that more than 76 million adults, or 38% of Nigeria’s estimated 200 million people, can’t read or write.
Nexford seems like a good way for young and older Nigerians to get ready for the job market of today. A graduate named Precious Aleaji told TechCabal that he first heard the business term OKRs (objectives and key results) at Nexford. OKRs is a phrase that is used a lot in the business world. He also said that Nexford’s approach to schooling, which is different from the traditional time-based approach, helped him do his best.
Aleaji told TechCabal that he was able to get to know many of his classmates and teachers even though he had never met them in person. He did this through Canvas, a learning management system.
Kenneth Nwafor, who works full-time at Guaranty Trust Bank and has an MBA from Nexford, told TechCabal that even though the degree was completely online, he was able to connect with his professors without having to change his work schedule. He didn’t have much time because of his job, but he could schedule one-on-one meetings with his professors whenever he did.
Even though Nexford’s degrees are cheap compared to the rest of the world, most Nigerians might not be able to afford the tuition, laptop, and internet connection because 40% of Nigerians live below the poverty line. Al Tarzi told TechCabal that Nexford is working with Nigerian companies like Piggyvest and Sterling Bank to help fix this problem by giving scholarships, setting up Internet centers, and giving money.
Educational institutions have a hard time stopping cheating in remote assessments because it’s hard to make sure students do their own work virtually. For example, because of COVID-19, the University of Lagos held its first-ever entrance exam from a distance for the first time last year. Even though the students were being watched by exam officials, the university found several cases of exam cheating after the test.
Nexford has software that checks for plagiarism and very strict rules about changing other people’s work without giving credit to the original author. Olamidun Ogundoyin, who is the Nigeria Country Manager for Nexford, told Techcabal that Nexford watches its students to make sure that they are really taking the courses themselves.
“At the beginning, middle, and end of each degree program, students must turn in assignments that are checked by a proctor. The proctored test is used to make sure that the person taking the test is the same person who signed up for the program. “A learner will fail the course if they don’t meet the requirements of the proctored assessment protocol,” she told TechCabal via email.
When TechCabal asked a Nexford student how the company makes sure that its students are the ones doing the work, the student said, “I don’t know.” I just know that they take plagiarism very seriously. I guess they want us to be honest and take care of things on our own.
One of Nexford’s “learners” graduated this year with a BBA and an MBA in just 18 months, which has never been done before in Nigeria. In the world we live in now, where speed and innovation are important, solutions like Nexford show promise.
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Nigerian undergraduates are pivoting to tech amidst extended strikes in universities