Online Education in India and the Need for It

Mayank Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO, UpGrad
Monday, April 18, 2016
Mayank Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO, UpGrad
Based in Mumbai, UpGrad is an edu-tech platform that provides rigorous industry relevant programs designed and delivered in collaboration with experienced faculty and industry. Leveraging the latest technology, pedagogy and services, UpGrad is creating an immersive learning experience

The education system in India has been historically driven by brick and mortar model. However this model, with the changing times, may not match the disproportionate demand in the ecosystem. Ranging from lack of technical know-how, lack of infrastructure and resources to lengthy permission processes; the current Indian education system seems to have become handicapped in enabling and educating the young Indian.

Education is a vast field where so much has been done, but there is a lot which still needs to be done. In India, out of approximately 150 million people who should be in higher education, only 25 million enrol for higher education. For a society to evolve, education is a need that must be fulfilled. Participation (gross enrolment ratio) in the higher education sector is one of the strongest indicator of any country's GDP growth. And for India to meet its GDP growth targets, we need to double our gross enrolment ratio in the next 5-10 years.

In order to achieve those participation rates, education needs to be accessible, relevant, flexible, personalized with tangible outcomes. All this and more can be tackled with online education much easily than with offline education. With over 65 percent of the country's population under the age of 35, online education can provide immense opportunities to bridge the need gap, enable and train large number of professionals with sector based skills in a relatively shorter period of time. In today's day and age, with prevailing competition in every job, it is difficult for professionals to take a break from their work to gain the additional skills that will help them stay relevant. Online education provides individuals to work and learn the relevant skills needed to move ahead in their professional journey at the same time. 33 percent of students in the U.S. higher education system have taken online education programs. In India, the penetration of online education is less than 1 percent. Online does provide a large opportunity for India to bring a much larger population into the higher education system.

Many may argue that online education cannot replace or better offline education due to lack of interpersonal relationships and peer to peer interactions. One hears about completion rates of 5-10 percent in the online education system. But technology has enabled us to create a superior experience in the online space. Online education has the power of leveraging data to provide personalized education to individuals. We have noticed that an increasing number of working professionals and students are preferring online education not only for the personalised pace of progress and convenience, but also for a better experience.

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