Nexford expands distance courses to East Africa
US-based distance learning institution Nexford University has announced its expansion into East Africa, starting with partnerships in Kenya.
The move follows a growing number of students enrolling in the university from countries like Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa.
The expansion has already begun with a partnership between Nexford and the Federation of Kenya Employers to analyse the country’s skill shortages.
“We are… excited to help address local and global talent shortages by enabling Kenyan youth to build the skills they need to qualify for both local and remote jobs,” Nexford’s CEO Fadl Al Tarzi said.
“Kenya’s economy continues to grow and is destined to leapfrog development as a result of a relatively strong primary education system, a robust technology infrastructure and a government clearly committed to digital transformation,” he continued.
Nexford’s goal is to garner a range of online partnerships with employers, and it is also “exploring collaboration” with local universities to add to their delivery of existing online offerings.
As part of its introduction to the expansion, Nexford hosted an online learning and career readiness conference in Nairobi for prospective students, with government, employment and education stakeholders in attendance.
The country’s current market context has made online education a more compelling option for students, according to Nexford.
Kenya’s current demand for higher education is now beginning to outnumber the amount of places available in both public and private universities – 173,000 students with grade C+ or above to just over 167,000 places.
“Similar to many other African nations Kenya is witnessing a supply-demand imbalance across higher education, largely as a result of rapid growth in the youth population.
“We are excited to help address that capacity shortage in partnership with a number of local organisations,” Al Tarzi said.
In addition to a shortage of places, Kenya is also bracing itself for an increase in university fees and a limit on public funding to “top graded students”.
“Kenya is witnessing a supply-demand imbalance across higher education”
The fees are due to almost triple in price for government-sponsored students, from £101 a semester to over £330, with the new measures recommended by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reform.
This, according to Nexford, means 40% of those with grade C+ or above will not be eligible for any public funding, thus eliminating the option of higher education altogether for some students – or pushing them to online options.
Laila Macharia, a lawyer from the region and non-executive director of ABSA bank, has been recruited by Nexford to be its senior advisor for East Africa.
At the career readiness event in Nairobi, she spoke about “raising awareness” of the opportunities for Africans to “prepare for the future of work and access the global grid of remote employment”.
“The many benefits of online education – provided by platforms such as Nexford – will help the shift from a ‘brain drain’ to amassing ‘brain capital’,” she said after the event.
Nexford’s platform offers US-accredited university degrees online across the world.