Traditional and new institutions need to re-examine how students fund their education

The cost of a good education has grown significantly over the past few decades, where social class is becoming more of an indicator towards access than talent. Couple this trend with the expansion of trade and learning programmes for a diverse range of careers; from dental assistants to cyber-security specialists, and education becomes a dynamic and increasingly challenging area in need of innovation.

From the lens of the institutions, recruiting a diverse group of students from a variety of backgrounds and experiences is also becoming more and more of a central theme. Students benefit from a diverse cohort rather than a homogeneous group. Institutions and society as a whole are turning their focus to employability more so than purely gaining qualifications, and the ability for students to repay any debt they might incur in going to university or taking on the time and resources required to undergo a professional qualification is more of a focus for measuring the success of programmes and institutions than ever before.

Financial services play an important role in the affordability and systems that enable education. So when we first met Dan George and the team at StepEx we were excited about a team taking on this challenge. The pandemic has impacted the way institutions recruit students and the way students think about education and this has only accelerated the importance of Fintech innovation in this space.

StepEx enables students to take on educational programmes as diverse as an MBA from institutions like London Business School, INSEAD, and Cranfield University in the UK to coding bootcamps like Makers and Capslock. Whether individuals are experienced professionals looking for a qualification that will enable them to unlock leadership potential, or individuals looking for a change in their careers, StepEx can enable them to take on the challenge of university with their Future Earnings Agreements (FEAs), ensuring they don’t have to worry about a debt they won’t be able to repay.

The success of organisations in the future will depend on finding talented and qualified people to take on more and more challenging roles. Products and innovations like the FEAs from StepEx ensure that the maximum number of people from the widest range of backgrounds can afford and access education to enable them to succeed. It also aligns the education establishments and new institutions with the success of their students. When systems and innovations work with multiple stakeholders to create win-win outcomes, the whole world benefits. Providing the team at StepEx with capital and the resources from our BBVA and Anthemis Venture Creation Partnership means we can play a significant role in making this happen.