Back office business: 5 big higher edtech deals this week

New opportunities for post-grad testing, AI-infested announcements, expanding online education, advanced robotics, and more

Key points:

  • There are new opportunities for students to access post-grad testing prep.
  • Universities worldwide are implementing new programs to advance both AI and robotics.
  • Online learning programs continue to expand even post-pandemic.

Spelman College, a global leader in the education of women of African descent, announced a new partnership with global educational services provider Kaplan that will provide Spelman students with free test prep courses for graduate-level admissions exams, including the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, and OAT.

As part of Kaplan’s All Access initiative, colleges and universities can help their students prepare for a variety of high-stakes admissions and licensing exams that they need to score well on to reach their ultimate professional goals — with zero out-of-pocket costs for students. Kaplan has prepared students for standardized tests for 85 years, and Spelman College is its newest Historically Black College and University (HBCU) partner, joining Xavier University of Louisiana, Howard University, Delaware State University, Talladega College, Stillman College, Fisk University, and Hampton University. It’s also now the first member of the Atlanta University Center Consortium, the oldest and largest contiguous consortium of African-American higher education institutions in the United States, to offer students these services.

In 2022, U.S. News & World Report ranked Spelman as the number one HBCU in the country for the 16th consecutive year. The College offers an array of top-notch majors and minors and graduates more Black women who go on to complete Ph.D.s. in STEM fields, than any other college or university in the country. “In recent years, one-third of Spelman students choose to attend graduate school, which is two times the national average. We are pleased to partner with Kaplan to provide this valuable resource to Spelman scholars to help them prepare for their post-undergraduate studies,” said Helene Gayle, MD, MPH, president of Spelman College. “Kaplan’s All Access initiative removes a financial barrier for our students and creates another pathway as they continue to further their education and soar in their careers to achieve greater social mobility.”

GRAY Associates announced the launch of Insight Advisor in their PES (Program Evaluation System) software for colleges and universities. Surviving and thriving in higher education requires faster, data-informed decisions. Combing through databases, multiple filters, and hundreds of visualizations slows the process, introduces errors, and stops occasional users from finding critical information. Insight Advisor allows clients to ask questions in plain English and immediately get the data they need, relevant visualizations, and detailed tables.

Insight Advisor taps into Gray’s PES software, which integrates program economics and local, regional, and national market data on educational programs. It includes data on student demand, competition, and employer needs to help schools make critical decisions that directly impact their growth and economic viability. Insight Advisor enables casual users to gather and analyze complex information more quickly and efficiently than ever before. More advanced users can create, revise, save, and reuse visualizations, data, and reports in a few minutes.

Robert Gray Atkins, Gray’s CEO, said, “For most of us, diving into a data system is like swimming in a swamp. Insight Advisor is a remarkable feature of PES: it allows a normal human to ask a plain English question and get the necessary data. It is our superpower for data analysis.”

Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) continues to strengthen global AI talent capacity and contribute solutions to pressing challenges across health, education, and climate, following its second commencement ceremony for the Class of 2023 on June 4. Held at the Abu Dhabi Energy Center in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; His Excellency Khalifa bin Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan, UAE Ambassador to Jordan; and His Excellency Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, President-Designate of COP28 UAE; the commencement celebrated 59 students graduating with a master’s in computer vision (CV) and machine learning (ML), along with its first-ever natural language processing (NLP) cohort. 

The Class of 2023 with His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (center); His Excellency Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, President-Designate of COP28 UAE and Chairman of MBZUAI’s Board of Trustees(right); and Professor Eric Xing, MBZUAI President and University Professor (left).

MBZUAI – the world’s first graduate research university dedicated to AI – is currently ranked 19th globally in AI and in these three key areas of specialization, according to CSRankings. H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber said: “The importance of AI is undisputed, which is why MBZUAI continues to push the boundaries of this technology through advanced research, strategic industry collaborations, and, of course, by empowering the next generation of AI experts. I am confident that the Class of 2023 will make a profound impact and develop tangible AI solutions that will help to overcome some of society’s major challenges, particularly in the areas of climate, healthcare, and education.”

Among the 59 students who graduated, 32 majored in ML, 20 in CV, and seven in NLP. The Class of 2023 comprised 25 nationalities from countries including China, UAE, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Italy, USA, and Jordan, highlighting the university’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive learning environment that attracts top talent from around the world. The Class of 2023 also had 17 academic papers published or accepted at major conferences and journals of international standing, including the IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR 2023), Journal of Physics Energy, and IEEE Access journal.

Everspring recently announced a partnership with the University of Iowa’s College of Education to support two online graduate programs: Master of Arts in Teaching, Leadership, and Cultural Competency (MATLCC) and Master of Arts in STEM Education (MA in STEM Education). The partnership will bolster Iowa’s College of Education in growing enrollments and delivering outstanding student outcomes by providing marketing, enrollment and student success services.

The University of Iowa’s College of Education offers an engaged community and flexible options for working professionals to pursue education and advance in their field. Iowa’s programs prepare the next generation of educators with the skills to solve challenging problems, gather and evaluate data and apply critical thinking skills. “Expanding the pool of highly qualified educators helps meet a vital need, both in Iowa and nationwide,” said Beth Hollenberg, CEO and co-founder of Everspring. “Everspring is excited to partner with the University of Iowa to increase access to future educators.”

As a specialized marketing solutions and student success provider, Everspring offers a full suite of brand development, performance marketing, integrated marketing communications, lead generation and enrollment management services that enable universities to cultivate awareness and deliver rapid, sustainable enrollment growth for their programs. Everspring’s expert student success team helps support enrolled students in their online programs, leading to outstanding retention and graduation rates and strong student satisfaction.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) and Delta Electronics, global provider of IoT-based Smart Green Solutions, have established the $24 million Delta-NTU Corporate Lab for Advanced Robotics, continuing their close collaboration in research & development for advanced technologies. The lab, supported under Singapore’s National Research Foundation’s Research Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 plan, will develop over three years next-generation technologies aimed at overcoming labour shortage challenges for the manufacturing and intralogistics – the logistical flows of goods and materials that take place on a company’s site-industries.

Collaborative robotic systems are set to become a staple as businesses transit into Industry 5.0, and as the world grapple with a manpower crunch arising from an ageing workforce and declining birth-rates. Such systems include human-touch inspired robots that can adjust their grip to pick up a range of materials, from fragile glassware to volatile chemicals, and smart sensing, radar and 3D sensors systems, which allow autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to operate in a dynamic environment with human traffic like hospitals and warehouses.

Professor Ho said: “This corporate lab with Delta Electronics proves that NTU’s research activities are industry relevant. The lab creates opportunities for us to translate our research into impactful, real-world innovations. This is in line with the NTU 2025 strategic vision, to harness the power of digital and advanced technologies to support the discovery of new knowledge and promote better learning and living experiences.”

The establishment of the joint lab marks a new phase of the partnership between NTU and Delta Electronics. In 2016, the Delta-NTU Corporate Laboratory for Cyber-Physical Systems was launched with a focus on using cyber-physical systems to build technological capabilities for use in Smart Manufacturing and Smart Learning. In 2018, the lab was expanded to accommodate more research activities. The first chapter of the collaboration has achieved success. Over the five years, the team filed 17 patents, of which 8 have been issued, and submitted over 200 papers to journals and conferences. It also supported more than 140 NTU research staff and graduate students, as well as scientists and engineers from the Delta Research Centre in Singapore.

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