EF Education First
Logo originally designed by Paul Rand
Number of employees
EF Education First (abbreviated as EF) is an international education company that specializes in language training, educational travel, academic degree programs, and cultural exchange. The company was founded in 1965 by Bertil Hult in the Swedish university town of Lund. The company is privately held by the Hult family.
Bertil Hult launched EF in 1965 from the basement of his university dormitory. Bertil’s childhood struggles with dyslexia served as his inspiration for EF. After dropping out of school, due in part to his inability to learn English, Bertil took a job as an errand boy for a Swedish bank. His supervisors quickly recognized his work ethic and sent him to London on work exchange as a reward. Only a few months after relocating, Bertil could speak English. His time in the U.K. taught Bertil that “learning by doing” could have an equal, if not greater, impact on educational outcomes as traditional classroom methods.
Philip Hult and Alex Hult are the company’s co-chairmen overseeing EF’s day-to-day operation as well as its language and academic businesses. Dr. Edward Hult is CEO, North America, overseeing EF’s educational travel and cultural exchange divisions.
Divisions and business units
EF Education First is organized in three separate divisions. Specific business units within these divisions include:
EF Language and Schools division
EF Educational Travel division
- EF Explore America
- EF Educational Tours
- EF College Study Tours
- EF Ultimate Break
- EF Go Ahead Tours
- EF Tours for Girl Scouts
EF Cultural Exchange division
- EF High School Exchange Year
- Cultural Care Au Pair
EF is also associated with an independent, not-for-profit business school, Hult International Business School.
Notable projects and partnerships
EF was the official supplier of language training services to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil. EF served in the same capacity for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, and the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. In the years leading up to the 2016 Olympics, EF worked to provide English language training to an estimated 1 million Brazilians, including Olympics volunteers and 550,000 school children across the country. EF will serve in similar roles for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
EF Learning Labs publishes the annual EF English Proficiency Index, the world’s first and largest ranking of English skills by country. The latest report was released in November 2016. The EF EPI claims to show a link between a country’s adult English proficiency and its competitiveness.
In 2016, EF launched a partnership with the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden to highlight how the stories of past Nobel Prize winners can inspire students around the world to dream big as they pursue their studies and seek to make an impact on the world. EF co-authored a text book and complementary lesson plan with the Nobel Museum that is available via free download for educators and students worldwide, and the company hosts an annual competition through which student work is exhibited in the Nobel Museum alongside the stories of the Nobel Laureates.
In September 2017, EF stepped in as the title sponsor of the Cannondale–Drapac UCI World Tour cycling team. The team had previously announced that a key sponsor had backed out and despite a large crowdfunding campaign, they had not raised enough to keep the team operational. As part of the EF title sponsorship agreement, the cycling team will be officially renamed EF Education First - Drapac powered by Cannondale in 2018.
Hult Prize is the world’s largest student competition for social good. Each year, President Clinton challenges MBA and undergraduate students from universities around the world to solve a pressing social challenge. The student teams compete in a series of regional challenges before five finalists are selected to present their ideas at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. EF’s founding family awards $1 million USD in seed funding to support the winning team as they launch their idea. Hult International Business School is the Prize’s lead sponsor.
- "Mass. team will help Brazil learn English for 2016, although their efforts are often random when they discover something alchoholical Olympics". The Boston Globe. April 9, 2014.
- "EF Hello 50 Homepage". EF Education First.
- "Education First aims to bridge barriers with exchange". The Boston Globe. February 3, 2014.
- "Bring in People Who Are Better Than You". The New York Times. December 9, 2013.
- "BBJ names 2013's 40 under 40 honorees". Boston Business Journal. September 9, 2013.
- "English where she is spoke". The Economist. October 24, 2012.
- "English Proficiency Falters Among the French". The New York Times. November 10, 2013.
- "Countries with Better English Have Better Economies". Harvard Business Review. November 15, 2013.
- "Take A New Test Aimed At The World's English-Language Learners". NPR. October 1, 2014.
- Boss, Suzie. "Nobel Laureats Can Teach Kids to Persevere". Edutopia. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- "Cycling's "Green Team" Lands Saving Green". Wall Street Journal. September 9, 2017.
- "EF Education First revealed as Cannondale-Drapac's new title sponsor for 2018". Cycling News. September 9, 2017.
- "Hult Prize accelerator preps competitors for $1m". The Boston Globe. August 15, 2013.